Repsond, React, and Reply - conversation in the (Econ)-blogosphere


For many of you, the topics of this post will not be news and many will have moved way on but for some it might be interesting, very interesting actually. Let's start with a bit of framing here. The blogoshpere is huge and I really do mean huge, currently the blog-hub Technorati tracks some 44 million blogs but there are bound to be a lot more out here. For example, I can't remember whether Technorati is also tracking MySpace blogs? More importantly however, Technorati also tracks links which at the moment amount to 2.5 billion links; that is a lot of links!

Essentially this means that if you want to read and write blogs you need to have some sort of method for findingthe blogs you like and more importantly to find a way to keep track of them. Filtering for quality will always be an issue but keeping track and order are best done by using a feedreader which allows you to aggregate the RSS/Atom/XML feeds from blogs and newssites you wish to keep track of; this is also called web syndication. One of the best known feedreaders out there is Bloglines which is an online service; desktop applications are available as well.

So far, so good. Feedreaders are good because they allow you to gather much of the information in one place and furthermore comes with instant updating because of the RSS-syndicated information.

What about if you blog yourself then and are semi-serious about it? My immediate reaction here is that I want to know who is linking to me and when. But how on earth do I do this when there are perhaps 50+ million blogs out there? Don't fret gentle reader, here as well have the industrious people in the web 2.0 industry crafted means for you to use. Now, the hard way to do this would be to 'Google' your name and URL ten-twenty times a day to keep track of incoming links. But what if you could keep track of your incoming links through web-syndication in good-old Bloglines, that would certainly be interesting would it not? Well this is actually very possible and for example services such as Technorati Watchlists, PubSub subscriptions, and Google alerts (uses E(G)-Mail? as an aggregator) allow you to create and customize RSS feeds not only for keywords such as for example 'Ipod' but also URLs and why not ... your name (who said blego :)) ? In particular, that these watchlists are RSS enabled really makes it interesting because it means that 'everything' can be held in one place. For my own sake, my Bloglines account serves as the hub for me to navigate a growing and versatile internet.

My weapon of choice when it comes to watchlists are Technorati watchlists and they quite simply enable me to keep track on links to my site which in my case would be for example; additions to blogroll, comments on posts (this is also known as trackbacks and might be automated in some cases) but also if some one writes 'Claus Vistesen is a d'ck' I want to know about it :). Concerning Technorati watctlists in particular they seem to scoop up a lot of junk which is unrelated to my site but not so much that I cannot find the interesting references.

So what is my point ?

Admittedly, you have been kept waiting horribly long for me to finish my rant about some of the opportunities of web 2.0. My simple question is; do all the Econ bloggers know about their incoming links and perhaps more importantly, do they want to know? First of all, the EconSphere could at first be called a gated/restricted community; especially if you take into account the entire blogosphere. Now, what does this mean?

This, admittedly, has a negative tone but all it initially means is that there are probably few who actually identify themselves as an econblogger relatively to the larger blogosphere. If I am right in my analysis it means two things in terms of linking ; 1) not many outside the Econsphere are likely to link to an econblogger which again means 2) that an econblogger browsing through his daily econblogging is likely to scoop up a majority of her incoming links here.

But who am I kidding here?! Gated and restricted communities in web 2.0; there is no such thing! In any case I identify myself as an Econblogger even though I am Business student and I also include political/societal blogs in my daily browsing. What I am saying here, is that it is probably possible (and fruitful?) to divide the blogosphere into categories and communities, but that this is very difficult and the boundaries between related areas are very hard to essentially identify.

In the end, this is also why you want to keep an eye on incoming links because after all if we were to put op parameters and measures through which we could define blogging communities it would precisely be through cross linking and I think that the Econsphere, to extent it exists, is an excellent example. In fact, the Econsphere is already one of the best and most lively (academic) blogging environments out there which allows and most importantly prompts some of the best economists (and many others as well) to engage in debate and knowledge sharing which, quite frankly, would not have been possible without the internet. In terms of knowledge accumulation in the econsphere I would not hesitate to argue that there are considerable returns to scale when it comes to networking and exchanges in the econsphere. As such the Econsphere is already a very lively community to be part of and no complaints from my side; yet, let us finish of with my main question. 

Do all Econbloggers know about their incoming links and perhaps more importantly, do they want to know?

Essentially I do not know how many econbloggers actually track incoming links, but I am quite sure, most of them would want to know ... why wouldn't they? As such, attention to one's incoming links through for example through Technorati's watchlists will allow you to track who is actually talking about your work and more importantly, to repsond, react, and reply and thus create conversation. So this is to the Econsphere's future and embrace of web 2.0.


Claus Vistesen 

Post script

Before I return to my place here on Alpha.Sources writing about economics and business I would like to say that much of what I have been talking about above is subject of enormous interests in other parts of the blogosphere. Consequently, 'blogging about blogging' and 'blogging about social media/web 2.0 developments' are topics which are hugely debated through blogs and generally on the internet. Navigating through this web of blogs is very difficult but below is a handful of the ones I read and of which I can gurantee the quality should my opinion have any bearing at all. 

Steve Rubel from Micro Persuasion

Jon Froda and Jesper Bindslev from Multivocality (In Danish!) English blog is here.

Neville Hobson

BusinessWeek's Blogspotting

Robert Scoble