The Blog Virus
An article on Wired News explores the infectiousness of good topics on popular blogs. It seems that many of the popular, well-known blogs may be taking topics from lesser-known blog authors without giving the original author credit. Hewlett Packard actually researched this phenomenon, creating software (that you can access by links in the article) that crawled through almost 40,000 blogs looking for topic similarity and the timing of similar topic posts.
This is Seth Godin's "Ideavirus" (I've written about this before) at absolute light speed. Even more interesting is that this may be the truest form of an ideavirus that can be studied because of an algorithm the researchers used called iRank. iRank actually ranks blogs on their effectiveness of getting ideas out into the mainstream -- essentially determining patient zero of the virus.
What's all this mean for bloggers? Well, responsible blogging means that you are using some of the tools made available to you;
1. At the very least reference the blog on which you first found the information. Although it is tempting not to reference the source once you reach the final destination, you should always drop in a quick link to the source blog.
2. When linking as described in number 1, you should use the Permalink function to direct your reader to the specific article on the blog.
3. Use the Trackback feature if it's available to track back from your blog to the blog you are referencing and to have that reference show on the original blog. Be aware that many free blog services do not offer this option.
For more on these features, read
my post on blogging from yesterday.
As a side note to those of you with blogs, think about adding a Creative Commons license to your work -- you can find mine at the bottom of the right hand side of this blog, under the links, Blogroll, etc. I encourage you to click on the Creative Commons link and view my Creative Commons license. Basically Creative Commons is an open copyright notice that allows the content owner to specify usage rights for that owner's material that is being freely published on the Internet. While you might notice that when you click on my license, you get a very easy-to-read license, there is also machine readable license language embedded in that link for automated aggregators.