Nice to see from Dave (and Gabe) that this blog is #97 on a new Techmeme Top 100 list — especially since this blog is currently #465,937 in Technorati’s Top Zillion, with an authority level of 14. My old one, which peaked in the top few at Technorati, is still at #877, with an authority level of 1647.

This here is the same blog, with the same name; just with a new URL and a new publishing system. Visitors run in about the same numbers (a few thousand a day). From my end it feels about the same, except for the publishing system differences. (It’s in WordPress now.) I still write it with the same outline editor. (And thanks to Dave for making it work.) But the differences in Technorati rankings show how tied we are to the URLs we use. Thanks to that fact, I have a long way to go, just to catch up to myself.

Odd not to see BoingBoing, long #1 on Technorati’s list, not present at all on Techmeme’s. Same with the new #1, Huffington Post. Not technical enough, perhaps? One can only guess.

It’s funny how we love these ranking systems, whether we like them or not. I think it’s because we like our world ordered in various ways: alphabetical, numerical, geospacial, chronological… But humans have always also been obsessively interested in ranking each other, in the notion of popularity, in who are the alphas and betas among us, and in stories about them. Witness tabloids. Or the fact that People magazine rakes in something like a $billion per year.

It’s something I’ve always understood, but never liked. As a kid in school I did poorly at academics and sports, and I lacked other distinctions that would have made me stand out. (Such as criminality, which was a popular option where I grew up in New Jersey.) Something happens to relationships when high ranking is involved. Those blessed with popularity risk feeling arrogant and entitled, while others risk becoming deferential or adorational. That’s why it rankles me when somebody says I’m an “A-list” or an “alpha” blogger. I’m just me, dude, not a number.

Bloggers are people, not institutions. We’re the publishing equivalent of single-celled animals. Being an alpha blogger is like being an alpha paramecium. And I don’t mean that as a knock on blogging. On the contrary, I think highly linky personal publishing amplifies the humanity of its authors. It puts in sharp relief our singular distinctions as human beings. Each of us is a #1 and Only.

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15 Responses to Ranklings

  1. Don Marti says:

    If everyone posts a list then maybe people will get tired of this stuff and do something else.

    But I doubt it.

  2. Jeff Cheney says:

    Small point — you linked to boingboing.com rather than boingboing.net. I *think* you meant the later.

  3. Doc,

    I’m curious what outliner you use and if you use the metaweblog api to post to the WordPress blog. That’s something I worked on for Dave with the OPML editor some time back.

    Just curious.

  4. Doc Searls says:

    Thanks for the correction, Jeff. You’re right. I was writing in haste, getting ready to board a plane.

    Don, you’re right. And I’m having fun going through your list(s).

    And Matt, it’s Radio Userland. I’ll be getting a new Linux laptop soon, and I’ll need an OPML editor for that one too.

  5. Well, breaking my New Year’s Resolution, but it’s pretty late in the year anyway …

    Being an alpha blogger is like being an alpha paramecium.

    You’re right. But being a Z-lister is like being a vacuole.

    This is the cruelty of blog-evangelism. Influence is dangled before the audience, and when it’s shown to be a false promise, the marks are then criticized for their having been taken in the first place.

    This has been gone over and over and over, and the aw-shucks disclaimers don’t change the fact there’s vast inequality and an exponential distribution of (per-topic) attention.

  6. Doc Searls says:

    Are we ever going to agree on anything around this topic, Seth?

    For what little it’s worth, this blog is now gone from the Techmeme Top 100, which Dave says is being gamed all over the place.

  7. On anything? Sure. For example I publicly agreed with you (against many Z-listers) that blogrolls generally don’t matter much, and it’s no big deal that you didn’t transfer your old blogroll to this new blog. And note, I was on it! (thanks)

    I think we had somewhat different reasoning there, but it came out to the same result.

    I don’t believe we actually disagree over the existence of (per-topic) “power-law”, that’s an empirical fact.

    Where we’re never going to agree is about what implications flow from this …

    [P.S. The Techmeme BigheadBoard, like the Technorati A-lister100, is a symbol – the map is not the territory, this is known. But messing up the map doesn’t make the territory disappear]

  8. Don Marti says:

    Seth, remember when every rat-bag web site started giving out “Best Web Site” awards? All those crappy little gold medallions and plaques and stars eventually swamped out the original awards — so they’re now rare outside of archive.org.

    When I fix the bugs in my Perl script I’ll probably get a totally different top 40, by the way. Whee!

  9. Absolutely, consider them the cheap knock-off of the important items. Happens in many industries. But someone creating a silly hierarchy doesn’t mean that other hierarchies have no impact.

  10. Dr.Mani says:

    You added a new term to my vocabulary, “Alpha Paramecium” 🙂

    I’ve detested the ego-centric desire to see where one ranks on the food chain, but also have been irresistibly drawn to do the deplorable thing myself (regardless of how often I tell myself it doesn’t matter what my rank is on the Gurudaq.com index, I find myself checking if I slipped down from #34 – or gained a rank or two!)

    From “The Long Tail”, I understood how economic and social rewards for being ranked high might drive such ‘hit’ mentality thinking – but then, aren’t we entering the ‘long tail’ era where this shouldn’t matter much?


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