Picturing the Summit of the Blogosphere

I love visualizations which turn complex information into a simple picture. This one, from Ben Fry shows how the fifty most popular blogs in the world exchanged hyperlinks over a ninety-day period. See his description for full details, but in short:

The first [image], used for an article titled Linkology, shows the connections between the top 50 blogs, based on data provided by Technorati. The colors depict the categorization: orange for technology, blue for politics, pink for gossip, and green for "other".

The intensity of the line is based on the direction of the link, so the lines are brightest at the link destinations. Because lower-ranked blogs are more likely to link to a higher ranked blog than vice-versa, the lefthand side of the image (the top ranked blogs) is brightest.

In other words, we can see that the most popular blogs (on the left of the picture) get the most incoming links because their ends of the lines are brighter. And the large number of lines overall shows us how frequently top blogs reference one another.

The guys at Table of Malcontents think that the picture demonstrates how "professional bloggers are, at best, symbiotic parasites" (because they use information from other blogs to fuel their own). I'm not sure that the image supports such a conclusion. To me, the picture isn't noteworthy for unearthing some surprising trend. The web is made up of hyperlinks, and the most popular sites receive more inbound links than do less popular sites. No shock there.

It's noteworthy just because it's a great picture and makes a trend very easy to see and understand.

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