cascadesinblogs

If you had to pick just 100 blogs that would provide you with all the content you need to stay informed on everything that interests you, which 100 would you pick?

And by which criteria would you determine that 100?

Some clever researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in the USA have done the work for you with the publication of a ranked listing of 100 blogs.

This is not just any old list – it’s been arrived at through a complex scientific analysis involving outbreak detection, submodularity, node selections and sensor placements among many other things.

If that and the image above – taken from a presentation the researchers prepared – don’t give you a sense of the complexity of the research, how the abstract in the published research paper (PDF) begins ought to:

Given a water distribution network, where should we place sensors to quickly detect contaminants? Or, which blogs should we read to avoid missing important stories?

The 10-page paper, entitled “Cost-effective Outbreak Detection in Networks,” is a detailed reporting of what the research aimed to achieve, the methodologies employed and the findings that resulted.

Here’s the researchers’ rationale:

[…] Our goal is to select a small set of blogs which “catch” as many cascades (stories) as possible. A naive, intuitive solution would be to select the big, well-known blogs. However, these usually have a large number of posts, and are time-consuming to read. We show, that, perhaps counterintuitively, a more cost-effective solution can be obtained, by reading smaller, but higher quality, blogs, which our algorithm can find.

A very long tail approach.

I should mention at this point that my blog is in this list, at number 84. Actually, as far as I can tell (I haven’t checked every single blog), only one other UK blogger is in this US-focused list: Hugh MacLeod, at number 76.

So two Brits cut the mustard of blog indispensability :)