The long tail is not a myth, and the many do outweigh the few. Pick a few words around a topic that you are interested in and search for them at Technorati and see who you find.
The top 100 is not the most interesting page on our site by any means. I wrote about this before - Call off the Search
I think Kevin misunderstands the use of the word "myth" in this context. Whether or not "the many do outweigh the few," it is the few that most profit. If the Top 100 is not the most interesting page on Technorati, then where does it rank in Technorati's hierarchy of interesting pages? Second? Third? Why is it on the front page at all if it isn't very interesting? Is it not in Technorati's interests to maintain the attention of those in or near the top 100 to influence their attention-directing authority for Technorati's advantage?
Finally, why can Technorati claim to be "the authority" on what's going on in weblogs, and then specifically disclaim any responsibility to anyone who relies on that "authority?"
I still have hope that Kevin Marks will reply, it is the weekend and he probably has a life, but so far, nothing heard.
Mike Sanders in Main Stream Bloggers (MSB) Assert Their Authority:
It didn't take long, but the Main Stream Bloggers (MSB) are asserting their authority.
Last week I wrote:
The long tail is a blogging myth in which the heavy-traffic bloggers try to convince the little guys, like you and me, that we are really the important ones in the blogosphere. And we should keep on blogging and linking to the big guys, since collectively the bottom 99% has much more viewership than the top 1% - or something like that.
then characterized my statement above as a decree. I don't follow this; the Top 100, like most of the rest of Technorati, is a reflection of others' links. Mike doesn't understand the difference between a gaussian and an exponential distribution either.
That was last weekend when I was suffering from food poisoning, and I saw this needed a considered response, rather than a dashed-off one, so I put it off. Dave prodded me again this weekend:
Technorati, again, as near as I can tell, is held in positive regard, at least by the members of the "A-List." I'll leave it to the reader to decide if this was an act of inspired genius to create a list that simultaneously flatters the egos of the people most in a position to criticize the company, draws attention to itself, and exploits the attention-directing "authority" of high attention-earning webloggers (the A-List) to draw even more attention to itself. I'd say probably not, since it's been done before; but it's still a pretty effective way to garner attention and achieve a measure of insulation from criticism.
But here we are a week later and I find myself talking to myself. Neither Keven Marks nor Dave Sifry deigned to entertain my questions. Perhaps I wasn't obsequious enough to merit being taken seriously. Perhaps I lack sufficient authority. I'm absolutely certain there's a "reason." But I don't think there's any explanation that can restore the fiction that "markets are conversations."
Well, I'll try. I got into blogging in the first place after following the Cluetrain writers here. In particular, Chris Locke goaded his newsletter readers into starting blogs, and I did so. My first few posts had a similar blustery tone to the one that Dave and Mike have employed with me here, pointing out where I thought others' pronouncements were unsupported or based on misreadings. That Mike thinks I am now a 'Main Stream Blogger' gave me pause, as I feel I have been having a conversation with those who are interested in some of the same, often esoteric, things as I am. What I found over time was that neither obstreperousness or obsequy added value, but considered discussion did. I found that things I wrote could be reflected back to those I cited, and they would sometimes respond, or others would join in. When I met the people I'd been reading and writing with face to face, the conversation was easily picked up and carried on.
By tracking people linking to me or mentioning my name, Technorati helps me in this distributed asynchronous conversation (thats how I found Mike and Dave's comments, after all). However, as I've said before, "I can read your thoughts, as long as you write them down first". In order to be in the conversation, you need to be writing and linking. Perforce, this means that those who write and link more, and are written about and linked to more, are those who most see the utility of it.
As blogging spread from ten thousand people writing about technology to ten million writing about their lives, their interests, their hopes and fears, characterising any of it as 'mainstream' is a readers choice, as you can only focus on a few narrow tributaries of the Mississippi of writing that surges through our computers every day. Technorati's top 100 list, and listing of the number of inbound links and blogs by search results is a way for you to see how others have linked before - you can click on the little speech-bubbles and see what they said in linking to them, we expose that directly. The top 100 are not some fixed group, they come and go, but in general they link a lot themselves, and write frequently.
Markets are about exchanges of value, and those with something to sell will always seek to manipulate the buyers' perception of value. Even if that means pretending to be engaged in the latest hip, trendy, feel-good, manufactured belief system created to garner attention and manufacture the perception of authority for its authors.
Markets are indeed about exchanges of value, but the market price is an emergent property of this spontaneous order of transactions between individuals, an information network that defies representation and measurement. A market is a spontaneous order, as is a conversation. The subtleties and complexities of these interactions are a source of fascination for me, as they do defy easy representation or theory, and we know that the analyses we can derive from blogging are only partial reflections of a complex reality, but we hope that they may be found useful, and that we can improve them and add to them over time.
If this criticism garners attention, that is not my intent. My intent is merely to state the truth as best I can perceive it. Any effort to engage in a conversation regarding whether or not Technorati believes "markets are conversations" at this point is merely a further effort to manufacture and shape perception. Hopefully that will inoculate me from having to engage in any pointless, back-and-forth, damage control efforts with either Mr. Marks or Mr. Sifry. If all of you would continue to do me the good favor of ignoring me, I'd appreciate it.
Bullshit. Of course you wanted my attention, or you wouldn't have repeated it in different places and phrasings. So quit the passive-aggressive reverse psychology posturing and think a bit.
Of course conversations are meant to shape perception; if they didn't there would be no point. Doc Searls and David Weinberger express this well, and differently. Doc explains that the root of information is that we are trying to form one another. David points out that without each other we are not human - look at children raised by wolves, and says we are writing ourselves into existence online.
Blogging is an arrogant act, as you say, Dave, and a personal one, but we are accountable and responsible to one another, and we reveal a lot about ourselves by writing continuously over time.
A while ago Dave Rogers wrote:
To be as authentic/truthful as possible, corporate Web sites must be shaped--as are all conversations--by the voices of the participants. And because the best conversationalists are also the best listeners, this requires Corporate sites that demonstrate that the company knows its visitors--not as mere statistics, focus groups or fat wallets, but as living, breathing, unique individuals--each of inestimable value, not because of what they can give to the company but because of who they are. As Tom asserted, these are sites that "have an interest in what the world says"--not just themselves.
We're trying to build a site that reflects what the world says, but it will also reflect what you look for within it. The web is Caliban's mirror, and Technorati a magnifying glass in front of it. If you don't like the reflection, you can change where you look, but you can also change what we reflect back with your writing and linking.