Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Microspheres by any other name....
Responding to a survey that evaluates the behavior of folks who read different kinds of blogs, Steve Rubel points out that
the problem with surveys like this one is that the blogosphere has a lot of gray areas. There are some blogs that are about cats. There are others that are about world affairs. And there are even more that are about cats and world affairs on the same page. How do you classify which is which?
Regular readers can predict very easily how I responded to this, and are probably bored to tears with the whole thing, since there have been 6 posts since last October throwing around the concept of the Microsphere. Time, I think, to be a little more articulate and definitive on the subject.

Here's what I'm getting at...

The idea that there's a single blogosphere is unhelpful, problematic and clearly bogus. As the number of blogs increases, the number of markets / niches increases, and each niche is inhabited by a select band of bloggers, and addressed by many more. Readers, though, are even more significant than bloggers in this context.

The blogosphere is powerful (and RSS even more so) precisely because, as Steve points out, you can construct a personal information sphere that is as idiosyncratic as you are. Bunker-Buster Bombs and Bunnies? Sure! Geocaching and Google-Cacheing? Absolutely. More importantly, as your interests change, your subs can change too, and reflect the information that you're looking for.

I have a hard time seeing the relevance of the T'rati top 100. The blogs in it, of course, are individually authoritative and heavily trafficked, but is that enough to justify the existence of a list? It doesn't matter who the top 100 bloggers are, or what the top 100 most linked sites are, or even that they're all linking to each other. What matters is that you, as a reader, get a feedreader account and subscribe to the stuff that you like. It is infinitely more important
that you are able to select the 100 blogs that matter most to you than it is that 100 blogs happen to be the busiest.

We each form our own communities as we blog. This was especially clear to me as Freshblog took off & I watched the homeschoolers & bible bloggers diffuse the category hack amongst themselves. A community of blog hackers has formed around Freshblog, A Consuming Experience, Ecmanaut, Browservulsel, Singpolyma, and other blogs that post great stuff about stretching blogger. New blogs are moving into the territory all the time, including Aditya's The Last Word and Phydeaux3. This community is supplemented and supported by bloggers
who implement our hacks, link back to the sources, challenge us to clarify our thought and ask us for new hacks that meet their needs. Are any of us top 100? No... although the blogs linked above certainly deserve to be, but we are focal blogs in a microsphere of informal blogger hackery & support.

Here's the point... We are also incidental for most of our readers. They integrate a blogger hacks blog into their microsphere temporarily, while they figure out categories, or drop-down menus, or tagging, or whatever, and then they focus once again on their primary interest. Or they subscribe and wait patiently for one of us to post something that will grab them & get added to their site. The power of the microsphere... of the personal information world, is that you can monitor incidentals and take from them the parts that work for you. The gray areas of the blogosphere are the best parts!!

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Posted at 11:15 AM by John.
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Blogger Tor said...
As one of the folks who has a blog about various and sundry subjects, I have to agree with this insightful post. My blog intersects with at least a few microspheres that I have consciously sought to join, and there are likely others of which I am oblivious. And most members of one microsphere probably don't have much interest in the other microspheres. That's one of the reasons tagging, categorization and RSS have become such powerful methods for publicizing posts.

This post has given me an idea about taking advantage of all the RSS feeds generated by my categories on my blog and letting subscribers just pay attention to the feeds that they're really into. I'll play around with it, and let you know how it works out.

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Blogger Tor said...
Come on over and check it out. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I stumbled across this post as it showed up in my aggregator because you used the term "geocaching".

I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. I too blog about a variety of subjects that are seemingly unrelated, other than all being interests of mine.

Long live RSS.

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