The discussion of the stagnation of the blawgosphere and the vitality of the Practical Blawgosphere, as well as this post from attorney Anne Reed’s Deliberations blog — specifically, Juror Number 3, Len Aslanian’s comment on the importance of geographical proximity to the success of a community — has me thinking about the (metaphorical) geography of the (metaphorical) community of the blawgosphere.
New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice is Defending People’s nearest conceptual neighbor. Deliberations lives on the same street. Public defender Gideon’s A Public Defender, Dallas criminal-defense lawyer Robert Guest’s I Was the State, and Bryan, Texas criminal defense attorney Stephen Gustitis’s Defense Perspective are in the same neighborhood. Defender-turned-prosectur Ken Lammers’s CrimLaw and Maryland criminal defense and First Amendment lawyer Jon Katz’s Underdog live in the same town as Defending People.
A search turned up Touchgraph.com, which creates a map showing pages “related” to a given page, based on some other criteria. The Touchgraph map of sites related to BennettAndBennett.com placed Criminal Defense Associates near my site — which placement is offensive if not libelous.
As a measure of the proximity of blawgs I would use the number of reciprocal links. If I link to your website, it doesn’t say anything about our proximity — I might have linked to your site as a curiosity. But if I link to your website, and you link to mine, there is a connection between us, as though we’ve been introduced. If there are multiple links back and forth, we’re probably talking about the same things. We may not agree, but we’re talking about the same things.
Mathematically, one way to calculate the distance between two blogs, A and B, is one divided by the lesser of the number of links from A to B and the number of links from B to A. So if A links to B 10 times and B links to A eight times, the conceptual distance between A and B is .125. (This calculation could be tweaked to take into account the ages of links.)
Conceptual distance could be useful to readers. If you find my blog valuable, and you know that the two closest blogs are Scott’s and Anne’s, you know that you might find Scott’s and Anne’s might be valuable to you as well.
If Defending People and Simple Justice are close, and Simple Justice and New York personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog are close, Defending People and New York Personal Injury Law Blog are close only if each blog has a narrow focus. If Defending people were about lawyering, Simple Justice were about lawyering and kittens, and New York Personal Injury Law Blog were about kittens, there might not be much in Eric’s blog for my readers.
If each blog has a single topic, the distance from A through B to C can be treated as the sum of the two distances. Otherwise, the distance from A to C might well be infinite — you might not be able to get there from here.
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