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Blogroll Links != Permanent Links

Having read Cameron Marlow’s draft paper “Audience, structure and authority in the weblog community“, I’m really glad I did! The paper is really interesting with a great introduction and summarised background on social network analysis. The most interesting part is that Marlow distinguishes between two types of weblog links – permalinks (links to individual posts) and blogroll links (like the links on the right hand side of this page). Apparently some of the bloggers usually assumed to be a-list bloggers are only a-list in analyses of incoming links from blogroll links. The permalink rankings are sometimes very different. E.g. scripting.com is no. 6 in the blogroll rankings, but only ranked 102 in the permalinks rankings.

The way Marlow distinguishes between a blogroll link and permalink is slightly dubious, but nevertheless, I really like the idea that the meaning of a link is inherently different when linking to a raw domain (e.g. http://www.overstated.net), and when linking to a specific post (e.g. http://overstated.net/04/05/24-weblogs-and-authority.asp). When linking to a specific post, there is an element of commentary or conversation; a specific interest in a specific point. The link to a raw blog domain is much more general, and does not assume a conversation, it is more of a pointer to an approximate area saying “this looks interesting”. Which I guess is why well-known bloggers tend to be high in ranks of links of this sort – “this looks interesting” might be purely because “this” is well-known, rather than having a particular post to read and therefore a reason to keep returning (and linking).

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