The on-demand blogosphere revisited

Ross Mayfield wants a version of TechMeme focused on his own trust circle:

Give me TechMeme where the core index is based on who I read, about 150 people at any given time, to show me what my friends are interested in. [Ross Mayfield: Between popular and personal there is social]
Nick Bradbury, Sam Ruby, and Dare Obasanjo are all on the case. It sounds like computation of link popularity within trust circles will start to happen soon.

Let's not forget about search refracted through a trust circle. Last year, back when I was accumulating all my subscribed feeds in a Mark Logic database, I prototyped that idea. In addition to charting the popularity of a link within my trust circle's feeds, it enabled me to search the text, titles, or link labels of items in those feeds. So for example, here was a snapshot of items mentioning ChoicePoint:

I'd have thought Yahoo's My Web would have gotten there by now, but evidently not. I can't say whether the obstacles are computational, or conceptual, or both.

I never published the script for my screencast about the on-demand blogosphere, but now's a good time for this excerpt:

I'm subscribed to hundreds of blogs, and I'm starting to think of the people who write them as a kind of neural network whose filters and amplifiers help me make sense of our increasingly complex information landscape.

But that's really just a metaphor. What actually happens is that I scan my feeds, absorb what I can, and bookmark what I might want to return to. Because I post my bookmarks to, and because other people do too, we have the beginnings of a shared memory. And because we tag our items, it's even a kind of associative memory. But only knows about the things we take the trouble to post and tag.

What if the entire blogosophere was, automatically, an associative memory? And what if the associations were driven by a combination of freetext and structured search? Here are some examples of what that could be like.


The collective awareness of our networks of bloggers shouldn't just scroll past us as we scan our RSS inboxes. We should be able to consult those people on demand, in specific contexts. You saw me focus on Bruce Schneier's items about ChoicePoint. He's someone whose thinking I trust on matters of security and identity. Of course Bruce sits at the center of his own network, and he trusts his own sets of sources on various topics. I can't yet consult his extended network, or Kim Cameron's, or anyone else's, but it's clear that's where we're headed.

In retrospect that was a tad optimistic. Before we can search transitively across trust circles, we've got to be able to search within them.

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