Weblogs have recently emerged as a
popular means of sharing information on the Web. While they effectively
foster the networking of participants on a one-to-one basis, so far
they have been lacking the capacity of allowing the establishment of
many-to-many communication relationships. This paper describes recent
work on facilitating group-forming processes and the sharing of content
among weblog authors with shared interests. We have designed,
implemented and tested the Internet Topic Exchange, a system that
enables weblog posts to be shared among open groups in the form that we
call topic channels. After nearly a year of operation, more than 200
topic channels have been created; several of them have been very active
and have brought together many participants. This suggests that our
approach to enabling weblog authors and topical content to cluster
while retaining the advantages of personal publishing is a viable one.
As everyone has noticed by now, the blogosphere is rather tricky to get around in, especially for newcomers, and the efforts at mapping it have remained pretty much scattered and fragmentary. Even if you restrict your view to the small space of academic weblogs, things aren't really better. Alex Halavais has launched into an effort of his own in that space, and upon reading this I've started a Wiki page
to help find a promising strategy for enabling a self-organizing
directory of research weblogs. You're welcome to contribute. Antonio
Granado and Catarina Reis, the curators of the PhDWeblogs database (which gets many things right), are also in on this.
"Old"-timers may recall that a couple years ago the weblog metadata initiative was started with a similar aim; alas, it seems moribund now, but it may be time to revive the idea.
Right now I see the most promise in a GeoURL-like
scheme with badges that link back and provide visibility and a metadata
harvester to collect the data. However, not everyone likes them badges (exhibit A: , found while fishing for 'em), and the issue of having everyone fiddle with their main page
templates in order to register is an unwelcome obstacle.
But you know what would be great? (I hope some of the Six Apart folks will read this..) Having a badges section
in the management section, which would enable drag-and-drop addition of
badges to the main page's template. The process would work
like this: 1- You register at some metatag service and it gives you a
"badge code" (just a string of HTML). 2- You paste that code in your
badges section and your main page template is automagically updated to
show the newly added badge. Falls short of being ridiculously easy, but
I'm sure many people find the prospect of trying to locate stuff in
their template file daunting.
I think this should be an ongoing conversation, so I've created a Topic Exchange channel for weblog metadata.
Use it to draw attention to your posts that relate to that topic. If
you have a TrackBack-capable tool, just link to the channel's page from within your
post and a reciprocal link will show up. If not (or if it didn't work), use the form provided at the
bottom of the page.