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Summary:

Technorati has long been known as a source for ranking the authority and influence of bloggers relative to one another. In an effort to maintain its position as a go-to source for online authority ranking, Technorati has now launched The Technorati Attention Index, a list of […]

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Technorati has long been known as a source for ranking the authority and influence of bloggers relative to one another. In an effort to maintain its position as a go-to source for online authority ranking, Technorati has now launched The Technorati Attention Index, a list of “mainstream media” sites that bloggers link to most… when they’re not linking to other bloggers, that is.

Technorati’s Jen McLean, in announcing the launch of the Attention Index, writes:

[T]he blogosphere is not self-contained. What about bloggers’ other sources? This is something we’re asked pretty frequently. We know the independence and immediacy of the blogosphere has had a huge impact on mainstream online media. Much is made of the tension between the two – but what we’re seeing is convergence, and a symbiotic relationship. In the most recent State of the Blogosphere study, we asked bloggers about the other media that influence them. Not surprisingly blogs are in the lead at 61%, but this is followed by non-blog web content at 46%. So what is the influence of mainstream media sites in the blogosphere?

The Index, which is to be updated monthly, currently includes the likes of YouTube, MSN, and Yahoo! News near the top of the list, along with The New York Times, BBC News, and CNN.com.

In looking at the Attention Index and thinking about how it is relevant for bloggers and web workers alike, my first thought was: how is an online mainstream media source defined relative to a blog, or social media source for that matter? The Index is telling us that Google (YouTube), Microsoft (MSN), and Yahoo! (Yahoo! News) are considered mainstream media sources alongside the more traditional likes of the New York Times, BBC and CNN.

My overall concern is that because the line between a mainstream media source and a blog is continually becoming blurred, having loose definitions within an authority index will dilute the ability for web workers to determine authority and obtain relevant analysis about information sources. Paul Boutin at The Industry Standard nails this fuzziness, stating that, “Technorati counts YouTube as a mainstream media site, which hurtles the world’s largest repository of bootleg TV and stupid pet tricks to the #1 spot. That feels like a bug, not a feature. I hope Technorati explains their logic: How does YouTube count as an MSM site?”

Still, the data that Technorati produces is such that Brian Solis asks on TechCrunch if blogs are losing their authority to what he calls the “statusphere,” in effect stating that, “while blogs are increasing in quantity, their authority as currently measured by Technorati is collectively losing influence.”

I believe that the Authority Index is a start to a more comprehensive model in which web sites across the board – traditional media news sources, blogs, and other social media outlets – are tracked and ranked in terms of authority based on links out, links in, and undoubtedly a number of other factors. The ability to then filter this list based on specified criteria will be of enormous value to web workers.

In related Technorati news, Louis Gray sees the company as being in a state of general resurgence:

…surprisingly, especially in recent months, the moribund site has consistently beaten Google in terms of finding new and accurate links to my blog or mentions of the site, while Google’s results have actually gotten less relevant over time, including false positives from blog rolls and the like. No doubt this had much to do with why Rob Diana, in January, said for the most part, that blog search sucks.

While I see room for improvement in how it is organized and defined, I find the Attention Index to be a worthy endeavor, and I’m curious to see where it goes.

How do you define “mainstream media”?

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By Eric Berlin

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