The small picture
Monday, October 15, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Why is it that the highest-rated sites, some with supposedly hundreds of thousands of subscribers, only generate a couple hundred hits when they link to you?
As Pete Cashmore on Mashable says, it's because the subscriber numbers don't reflect actual readership. The people who subscribed may not even be aware that they are subscribed. Or put another way, we haven't learned yet how to measure what's valuable, we only have the crudest ways to measure value, so crude as to be meaningless.
Ultimately what matters to me is not how many people subscribe to my feed, rather how much of a connection I can make with the people I want to connect with. I'm satisfied that the people I care about read my site, and the aggregators flow mostly the wrong people through my posts with the most sensational headlines, ignoring the ones with the greatest value, imho.
I'm a blogger not a broadcaster. Blogging isn't about mass markets, it's about the small picture. My small picture (and for you, yours). I'm trying to draw a picture, create a frame of reference that's personal, not corporate. I'm a zig to corporate media's zag. I am a blogger. I am personal.
I don't want a hundred thousand ghosts "subscribing" to my feed. I want to influence the thinkers of the tech sphere, and I'm satisfied that I do. No leaderboard is ever going to reflect that, even though my site is often favorably rated by them.
I want rating services to provide clues about what I should be subscribing to. I want them to find not what's popular with the masses but what will be valuable to me. My favorite movies are not the ones the masses like, I prefer art films and ultra-violent comedies (I like everything Quentin Taratino does, for example).
It's a simple matter to apply collaborative filtering to this problem, we've even done it in SYO. These ideas need revisiting now that everyone else seems to have caught on that this is a problem worth solving.
Fred Wilson: "I totally agree about engagement being the right metric."