Blogdex is a research project of the MIT Media Laboratory tracking the diffusion of information through the weblog community. Ideas can have very similar properties to a disease, spreading through the population like wildfire. The goal of Blogdex is to explore what it is about information, people, and their relationships that allows for this contagious media.
Blogdex uses the links made by webloggers as a proxy to the things they are talking about. Webloggers typically contextualize their writing with hypertext links which act as markers for the subjects they are discussing. These markers are like tags placed on wild animals, allowing Blogdex to track a piece of conversation as it moves from weblog to weblog.
Blogdex crawls all of the weblogs in its database every time they are updated and collects the links that have been made since the last time it was updated. The system then looks across all weblogs and generates a list of fastest spreading ideas. This is the list shown on the front page. For each of these links, further detail is provided as to where the link was found, and at what time.
Since it went online, Blogdex has been joined by a number of other tools which provide similar services, Daypop, Technorati and Popdex to name a few. Taking from the design imperative made popular by Google, the guiding force in developing Blogdex has been to "Do one thing, and do it right". In the ecosystem of weblog aggregators, I hope that Blogdex will be the best tool for tracking emergent media.
Blogdex has been providing a service to weblogs for two years, and as a living research experiment it depends on people to help shape it as a tool. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to let us know; they will undoubtedly be useful.
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