Who fired the first ping?

For a moment (or perhaps a millennium* in “internet time”) an article on the 50 most loathsome people in America appearing in the Buffalo Beast was at the number 1 spot on Blogdex. I’d never read the paper until I saw it linked in Kara’s blog–and I suspect most bloggers hadn’t. Though, perhaps I should have seen it before, given that it’s published right here in “Evil Buffalo” by a bunch of ex-ex-pats back from Moscow (huh?).

At any rate, it made me wonder. When I saw it in Kara’s blog, it made sense. She picked it up somewhere in print and linked it as interesting. She’s the sort of person who does that sort of thing. At least I like to think graduate students see more of the world than we profs do in our ivory towers.

But where on the wave of diffusion did Kara sit? Was she an early adopter? If Kara had cited her source, we could venture a guess. But as users and makers of an immature medium, bloggers don’t have clear standards when it comes to citation. I try to say where I get stuff, but the line between originality and mix-master-thought-DJing is fairly thin in the blogosphere.

The data is there. The lines just need to be drawn: a map that Katz and Lazarsfeld or Rogers would (have) kill(ed) for, a continuous map of opinion leadership. It’s not an original idea, but its implementation is more than a small chore. Who fired the first ping?

* I learned to spell the damned word, I want to keep using it now; it’s not like I’m going to wait another thousand years for the chance.

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  1. Posted 12/21/2002 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    I saw it at Metafilter!!. They have the best (obscure, yet relevant) stuff. And I liked the Beast enough to add it to the Sites I read (weekly).
    But where do you draw the line? I read it at MeFi, but what if the MeFi poster (blogger) had seen it on someone else’s blog, who had seen it posted on a listserv, who had found it when they typed in the wrong URL once upon a time?
    Citing the real source (in this case, The Beast), and where you saw it/ who told you about it (when you remember) seems sufficient for most bloggers, but is it realistic for bloggers – even the most hardcore – to trace a whole lineage? Doing that, and figuring out why bloggers create those links should be reserved for grad students w/ lots of time on their hands.
    Oh, wait. . . :)

  2. alex
    Posted 12/21/2002 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    The thing is, you don’t need those citations. Just like any other diffusion, and epidemeology would probably be a good starting point, you can use other observances to infer the spread. I don’t need to know, necessarily, that you saw Metafilter, only that MF had it before you did. Eventually, it would be really cool to know who got it when and from whom, but as a first step, who got it when would be good.

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