Marry Hodder, CEO at Dabble, made a good point yesterday at the business blogging summit here in Seattle when she said that the Technorati rankings for authority are not really a measure of authority but a measure of popularity – and that measuring authority is not something that should be conceded to a web service but something that gets determined by the end user.
At one point or another everyone is struggling with how to filter content to find the relevant pieces of information. Some people believe that popularity may be the right filter. Others believe that you can only trust “real” journalists and should use that as your filter to get the right content. Some others still cling to the belief that only academic credentials, with publications and peer review, can result in the “experts” worth listening to.
The reality is that no one filter can work for all topics and at any point in time. If I am looking for customer feedback on a new product, I may not want the voice of the expert, and certainly have learned not to trust the voice of the “journalist” reviewer. If I am looking for information on cutting edge cancer treatments on the other hand, I may only trust academic types. And if I need information on a more popular topic, then popularity may well be the right filter – or ratio of blog posts to comments and trackbacks, or some other metric that determine how well a person is read, quoted, etc.
Now, another person may look at this in a whole different way. The bottom line is that the “right” filter is content-specific as well as reader-specific.
Making things even more complicated – the right filter is also time sensitive. If I have time to cull through a large amount of information then my filter may not be set as narrowly as when I am in a time-crunch.
So in a way, everybody has a personal profile that determines the right filters based on subject and moment in time. If somehow we could have web services that would match their results to my personal profile, then we would have a real cool solution.
It’s really simple when you think about it…well…maybe not 🙂