Socialism doesn’t work…we still make authority lists

It’s amazing, the internet is a tool that can free the world, spread democracy, the wishful thinking of communism and socialism, yet we still return to our human instincts to create hierarchies –against our better judgment.

We create lists “A-Lists” and point to leaders, who in turn get other information (under embargo) yet shifting the power of media from traditional to the new influencers.

Despite the nobility of such idealistic causes, I’ll just go along with it, since I’m guiltier than most. Transparency: I’m guilty at bragging too, I’ve worked hard, and it want it to be known… how human of me.

To prove my point, recently, there’s been a few lists created of bloggers, last year, it was for the overall blogosphere:

  • Technorati’s Top 100 blogs
  • This week, Techmeme, released a list of top websites and blogs (noticed I used “and”) in the tech industry. Please note that many of the top “blogs” are actually web magazines with multiple authors, editorial policy, agenda and calendar, here’s the list:

  • Techmeme’s Leaderboard
  • We continue to segment, as the power 150 releases the top Marketing Blogs:

  • The Power 150
  • Ad Age follows suit, with similar results:

  • Ad Age top Blogs
  • And now, the top Analyst blogs are released. Nathan notices that one firm is dominating the space. It’s interesting to note that most of the top blogs are from Forrester, which was highly factored into my decision for joining this team. The other analyst firms lock up their bloggers for clients to read only. I met the CEO today, he embraces this new world and supports the intimacy that these tools can bring between Analysts and Customers.

    Here’s the the top 100 Analyst blogs (using similar methodology):

  • Top 100 Analyst Blogs
  • To further the whole numbers thing, I just completed a “Social Media Scorecard” around the entire Web Strategy Brand. I’ve documented the brand on the various tools that I’m using, you can check it out here. It’s during a milestone period of my life as I transition to a new role. Sorry to disappoint for all the cavalier self-importance here, but I’m not the only one doing it.

    Update: Humorous commentary about Gabe Rivera, the creator of TechMeme, of course, seen from his own site, techmeme.

    • To say those sites we’re exclusively made to tier bloggers up wouldn’t be right, but i still agree.

      There’s an unwritten list of A-listers and B-listers that are particularly more popular than everyone else in the world, and thats (probably) a problem.

    • Yet the very principle of The Long Tail emphasizes that even if those lists exists — and regardless of whether those lists actually represent authority on the topic or self-referential navel gazing and back-patting is open to debate, as ValleyWag notes — the fact that many-to-many publishing and now broadcasting can take place is in place. It may not be easy to be found via search engines, if someone creates a new blog on a topic that is already a saturated topic, but for someone addressing a niche or a space that’s not dominated already, there’s still the first mover advantage. In the real estate market place there’s still a great deal of potential for individual bloggers to use the tools to good effect for their business.

      How any of this has anything to do with socialism and it’s viability seems tenuous at best. To the extent the lists sited above define authority the benefit is that there’s a significant transparency how the authority is defined. If one buys into the methodology, then one can choose to confer authority on a list entry. And while there’s likely some connection between presence on the list and influence on, say, thought leadership or the range of influence on others and some aspect of commercial success directly flowing from ad dollars or indirectly from career opportunity, it’s not as if inclusion on any of the lists above is a means of granting or gaining significant political or economic influence.

      I don’t care if someone’s an A-list or B-list blogger; I care about the ideas they have and the value they help me create. In other words, the value I get from your blog has nothing to do with a self-referential post like this one, but comes more from a post like “Innovation: The Mirror, Window, and the Door”, or the Weekly Digests.

    • Judson, thanks. It’s human instinct really. I had this conversation on my walk home from yesterday with a new analyst. He suggested that “Wow, there’s a lot of noise out there”, and I responded that in addition to self-filtering, we will also rely on our network to filter for us.

      Kevin, I just love all this juicy input you’ve provided. Granular: Yup the challenge with search engines is the same problem…they filter by ‘popularity’.

      Thank you for voicing on previous posts that have helped you, for example the “mirror/window/door” post received few comments, yet several have commented on it to me personally.

    • BTW, I “tweeted” on Twitter that “Socialism Doesn’t work on the internet” and received the following responses in just a few minutes.

      A bit more color for you, and please note the latest responses are listed on top.

      All of the following responses are public:

      angela penny apenny @jowyang those ranking lists are basically media devices to frame a story. what’s a good story? how about the top 10. about 7 hours ago from web in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      angela penny apenny @jowyang people can ascribe value without a ranking, they do it all the time, novelists for example. egalitarianism isn’t socialism. about 7 hours ago from web in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      Jeffrey Schwartz Blephen @jowyang: human nature does not evolve at the same pace as technology…else we wouldn’t be in the mess we are. about 7 hours ago from im in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      Constantin Basturea cbasturea @jowyang – isn’t it odd that in the age of tags & of ‘everything is miscellaneous’ we’re still looking at lists in *hierarchical* ways? about 8 hours ago from web in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      Judson Judman @jowyang Thats going to happen wherever we go… its human nature almost… about 8 hours ago from web in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty Icon_red_lock
      Krish krishnan @jowyang Amen to that. about 9 hours ago from TwitterFox in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      Jeremy Pepper jspepper @jowyang – i think it’s less socialism and more egalitarianism. about 9 hours ago from web in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      Julia Roy juliaroy @jowyang i’ll pick up up and drop you back off where you need! about 9 hours ago from twitterrific in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

      missrogue missrogue @jowyang Do you think those hierarchies happen because we have so many dudes still in charge? about 9 hours ago from twitterrific in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty

    • We do seem to need our royalty, whatever country or biz. Everyone idealizes rock stars, and then enjoys tearing them down and watching them fall. A la Scoble, a la Britney. So much for socialism indeed. This is much less noble.

    • Geoff and all, is Scoble falling?

      Honest input wanted.

    • Don’t know that he’s falling, certainly not at a Spears rate of descent, but he certainly has his critics who enjoy the tearing down activity.

    • I could write a whole post on this, having been so close to him, but I probably won’t.

    • Christopher Coulter

      As if 2,000 years of ‘modern’ history isn’t proof enough, socialism and democracy itself can only work on the small-scale, and then only on pure merits…’if men were angels’, and we aren’t, far from it. Democracy and Socialism are hopeful ideals, never matching reality, and dangerous to the extreme when applied literally.

      The more noise, the bigger the community, the more the need for authority. How to manage that authority is what human history is made of, and (imho) Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Mason, Madison, Jay, Washington and Hamilton got it closer than anyone, but even then, imperfect at best.

    • The Power 150 and Ad Age Blogs are the same list, FYI, Ad Age just took it over for ToddAnd.

      In almost every segment lists and rankings form. For instance, witness the Healthcare100 and Gossip100 lists.

      It helps to make sense of a tangled web for people that are new or don’t have the time (or inclination) to join the community, but it also has a tendency to alienate those who are a valuable part of the community but just don’t make the list for whatever reason.

      Still, information overload will require more, rather than fewer, of these lists. How those that are on these lists behave is a whole different story. Actually, maybe it is the real story.