unsocial non-networks

Most blog posts did not include any links. A recent study selected 44,362 blogs in a way biased toward finding linked posts. Among all 2.2 million posts in those blogs in August and September of 2005, 98% of the posts had no incoming or outgoing links.[1] This isn’t a matter of A-List bloggers exclusivity or blogger masses languishing at the bottom of an influence hierarchy. Most blog post don’t even have any outgoing links.

Most bloggers probably blog in a room by themselves, sitting down, typing on a keyboard. Much blogging seems to be about self-expression, like writing in a diary back in the days of secret, personal histories, or about news reporting, like that in traditional media, but with much smaller audiences.

Humans in physical proximity are naturally social. Silence is awkward. Not making eye contact raises suspicion. Persons with nothing in common and no reason to communicate will nonetheless communicate when in physical proximity without a strong alternative focus of attention. Only persons united in an intimate connection are likely to feel comfortable being together in silence when communicating is an authorized possibility. In physical proximity, self-expression and monologues without regard for communication tends to be interpreted as offensive.

Alternative circumstances of communication evoke remarkably little of this natural human sociality. Communicative circumstances are important. Blogging is not like being in a room with other people, even though other persons’ blogs are readily available to a person blogging. Bloggers forlornly lamenting that no one links to them should realize that this does not mean that no one would talk to them.

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[1] Jure Leskovec, Mary McGlohon, Christos Faloutsos, Natalie Glance, and Matthew Hurst (2007), “Cascading Behavior in Large Blog Graphs: Patterns and a model,” Paper to be presented at SIAM International Conference on Data Mining (SDM 2007), Minneapolis, MI, USA, Apr. 26-28, 2007 (pdf). Blogs were selected through link traversal (see Sec. 4.1 of paper). For share of isolated posts, see Sec. 5.3.

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