June 10, 2003
Bloggers as the Librarians of the Web

Elwyn Jenkins at Microdoc News has made an observation that’s spot-on. Lately, there’s been a lot of noise about blogs distorting Google’s search results. Jenkins, however, points out how mistaken that idea is. His argument, and I think it’s a good one, is that bloggers make search results better by acting as central stores of expertise on a given topic. In other words, bloggers are to the Web what librarians are to your local library:

The alternative, if you are not going to use the blogger entry is to do about 150 hours of research that the blogger has already done, by working you way down the search result listing. In fact, is you take into account the work done by the blogger in each of these locations, you would find that you perhaps would be doing more than this number of hours research before arriving at the end result that blogger provides you free of charge.

Exactly! Many bloggers are experts in fields that are far too narrow or niche-oriented to ever be covered in depth by mainstream publications. For someone looking for information on these fields, finding a good blog and just going through its blogroll can be more informative than hours of more traditional searching.

In this sense, bloggers are constructing a sort of massive distributed index of the Web, with each blogger contributing a tiny bit to the index. That index will never be 100% comprehensive, but odds are its coverage will map pretty well to the information that’s generally available (subjects with lots of Web resources will likely have many bloggers covering them, those with few resources will have fewer), so the gaps won’t be as glaring as you might think.

I just hope I don’t start getting e-mails from bloggers telling me to shush while I’m browsing their site :-)

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at June 10, 2003
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