Harvesting the Blogosphere

On my way to work this morning I listened to the Gillmor Gang’s latest podcast called “Gillmor Gang Raw” and one topic hit a hot button with me.

The discussion topic I was hot on was about the latest — and quite public — debate about Dave Sifry’s Technorati blog tagging & search offering monetizing what exists within the blogosphere. There’s an excellent article on SiliconValleyWatcher.com that explains the agitation that exists within the blogosphere and about what Dave and the Technorati crew are driving towards.

My opinion? Harvesting the blogosphere — and the collective consciousness that exists within it — IS THE WHOLE POINT! In fact, two weeks after I began this blog, I wrote a post about the collective consciousness that blogging represents. Offerings like Technorati are an incredible way to tap in to what people are thinking about politics, products, services, other bloggers, you name it.

Companies will pay for this information. My blogging bride is an international trend expert in home furnishings identifying the trend curve and providing intelligence to manufacturer’s, retailers and interior designers. We’ve had several conversations about how cool it would be to be able to track opinion-makers and the average Joe through blogs (to better understand motivations that could potentially impact home furnishings) but the tools are a long way away from offering her that capability. Clearly the opportunity is so obvious that Dave Sifry sees the chance to monetize the harvesting of common (or even niche) thought. Money for Technorati means more servers, more innovation, and acceleration of both.

In my view, harvesting for the common good is where it gets really interesting. Many people talk about the power of Slashdot and its ability to instantly focus geekdom on the topic of the moment and the infamous Slashdot Effect is well known. I’ve seen another Slashdot effect of polarizing the nerds but ultimately coming to some kind of tacit agreement and even helping out someone who has asked for it by providing links, suggestions, or general comments…some times by the hundreds! When the tools mature to the point of being able to provide researchers, analysts, and other interested problem solvers with access to tens of thousands or millions of minds simultaneously, all I can say is “Wow” (then I throttle my happy-assed optimistic side and think of the Borg).

Bloggers linking to other bloggers threads together this common thought. It spreads the word. It holds the promise of focusing the collective consciousness on problems, issues and ways to move the world forward — and Technorati can help keep chaos at bay by kinda, sorta structuring blogs through tagging. Though there may be ways to monetize even this common good use of the blogosphere (e.g., ads wrapped around all searches, reports, etc.) the point would be to provide a way to identify and solve problems through the network effect vs. talking about diaper changing, ones latest girlfriend or other diary-type entries.

UPDATE: Here’s a “hmmm…” article I just came across in USAToday about cities (including my own Minneapolis) that are, shall we say, ‘leveraging’ the blogosphere for tourism. Is this gaming the system? A natural extension of an explosion in interest in blogs? A use desperately in need of disclosure so that — when we *do* harvest data — it’s real instead of gamed?

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1 Comment

  1. David Sifry on July 24, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. Our tools are also developed to protect privacy as well as drive traffic to the individual bloggers, thus enabling a greater conversation between companies trying to listen to customers, and users/customers with opinions to share!

    Dave



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