I read a great article on the Blogger site that presents an interesting argument about blogging: an emergent property of this widespread and growing phenomenon is that it has become an oracle of sorts. There is a certain collective intelligence when you have the power of numbers, diversity of opinion, and freedom of both medium and content. If we have methods to analyse the overwhelming mass of data (see Blogdex and Technocrati for examples) we should be able to answer questions and predict trends about popular topics more accurately than any given individual weblogger.
This is strikingly similar to the process of biological evolution whose effectiveness in what I would describe as life itself solving the problem of staying alive is related to population size, phenotypic variation and its underlying genetic variation, and availability of diverse environments with subtle variations.
If we have methods to analyse the overwhelming mass of data (see Blogdex and Technocrati for example) we should be able to answer questions and predict trends about popular topics more accurately than any given individual weblogger, in much the same way that an evolutionary biologist may look for answers to biology questions using genetic and phenotypic analysis
Neat, however I am concerned that it may be possible for special interests prone to deceitful tricks, who once aware of this phenomenon, may try to take advantage of this by unleashing hordes of minimum wage webloggers upon the system. Keep in mind there are already some savvy companies out there who are paying their employees to regularly maintain a public blog. Once money is involved will the collective intelligence of webloggers be eroded? In fact I wonder how hard it would really be to write some robot code that can maintain a weblog..just convincing enough that it would be hard to distinguish from a real blogger. Probably not so
hard, I’m sure some AI folk out there could answer that question.
A truly useful feature that catapulted Google to stardom, Pagerank succumbed to some major problems once closeknit “communities” that shared common goals took advantage of its algorithms for assessing how authoritative content is on a subject based on how many other popular content sources link to it. As Google has become the Microsoft of information access, it has been prone to many attacks and has also been put in a position where it needs to make moral decisions on behalf of its users. For some interesting discussion see Google Watch, where you can see that despite “best intentions” Google is often in an impossibly tricky situation, and that Google makes mistakes like everyone else.
Speaking of blogging, I have been struggling to get going on a regular blogging schedule and I thought a log entry about logging may just be what I needed to throw off the writer’s block. We’ll see if it worked!!!