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Monday, April 02, 2007

An Aha Moment - as Indicator of Valuable Content - Importantly My Content

I saw a post by Ray Sims that quoted Bill Ives writing:
Putting my blog posts into also allows me to see who else tagged these posts to determine the ones that others found useful enough to tag in
This was a bit of an aha moment for me. I went back to my post: Activity in Last Six Months to see what Page Views, Time on the Page, Number of Comments and number of Bookmarks might tell me about my top ten posts (counted by page view). The table below may require you to visit the blog to see it correctly...

Page Views Time Comments Bookmarks
Blog Home Page
NA 100
1. What is eLearning 2.0?
9 84
2. First Time Visitor Guide
7 43
3. Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog
16 22
4. Rapid eLearning Tools
9 9
5. Fun Headline Generator
0 0
6. Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective
4 65
7. Incredibly Cool! Vision of Future of Application and eLearning Development
0 9
8. Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools
8 27
9. Second Life and Learning
4 7
10. Software Simulation eLearning (w/ links to Tools)
1 4

In looking at these numbers and thinking through what they mean.
  1. Page Views shows interest in the topic, but may not indicate value. Just because someone came to the page doesn't mean that they found valuable content. For example, the post Fun Headline Generator is a neat little tool, but certainly not worthy of being the 5th or 6th most popular post. The amount of traffic is an artifact of search terms.

  2. Comments indicate interest in some discourse around the topic, but ...

  3. Bookmarks to me indicate what I think is my most valuable content. And if you think about it, those posts naturally are the ones that people feel they may want to come back to later. Note that: Fun Headline Generator didn't garner any bookmarks because while I may think it's a fun little tool, even though people visit, they didn't think they'd use it (or they would have bookmarked it).
But here's the "aha" for me ... This social bookmarking, wisdom of crowds works really well across a limited set. In other words, if I want to indicate what people felt were the most valuable posts on my blog, I should have listed them according to the number of bookmarks. That would have added to the results the following posts near the top:
I think that all of these posts are among my best posts. And actually, my First Time Visitor Guide points to these same posts because I think they are good.

Now I know that this is what everyone has been telling us for a while about the value of social bookmarking and sites like Digg. Somehow, I never made the connection to helping me for MY CONTENT. Because there's no obvious view in for this information, my suspicion is that I'm not alone in missing this opportunity.

So now that I've finally caught on to what Bill Ives obviously knew (and lots of other folks), what I'd really now like to have is a widget from or someone producing a widget using their API that would be able to produce the most bookmarked pages from a given domain (mine) over a given period of time (e.g., all time, during the past 30 days). I could put this widget in my sidebar to tell people what my best stuff is. And tell people what the most valuable stuff is over the past 30 days. In fact, this would allow me to redo my First Time Visitor Guide with content from this widget.

Does this widget exist? If not, can someone write it for me?

And, can you even produce such a result in itself? Can you show me the pages in descending order according to number of bookmarks that occurred in the past 30 days? Or even over all time? I couldn't figure that out.

As I'm thinking about it, this would be a great tool to have to explore a given blog/site to see what people have found as valuable. So maybe this should be another button to add to the browser that I could click on any domain to show me what the important pages are on that domain (as judged by users). It could also show me newer stuff that people found was important. Since many bloggers haven't caught up with having their own First Time Visitor Guide this gives me one somewhat automatically (and I don't have to rely on the opinion of the author).

I realize that this approach suffers from the same possible abuse by people who want to spend time bookmarking (or digging) stuff that they want to elevate. But, if all they get is having a post in my blog that is elevated there's some possible abuse of this by having people come in and bookmark particular posts of mine that mention them or something like that. I'm just not sure that someone is going to spend the time to do that when the effect is so limited.

Curious what people think?


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe Tony

Let me be the first to write a comment on this (or have there been trillions that you've had to delete because of their content? :-)

I'm sure you are aware of the use of other web2.0 software, most of which are specifically designed for sifting statistical information about how a post is viewed/used/noted/or-otherwise-recorded.

It is interesting, isn't it? how they all have their characteristic slant on the group that's observed. Some apps miss things altogether, others monitor specifics according to how the posts are viewed.

This method is not unlike counting comments, in that it is real evidence for engagement with the post.

But it's a bit like the devices on email systems. One can check if an email has been opened. One can read a reply of acknowledgement. But it's difficult to ascertain if an email has actually been understood until there is some further evidence from, or as a result of something been done by, the recipient.

Haere rā
from Middle-earth

Tony Karrer said...

Ken - completely agree that there are various criteria that can be used.

Comments generally indicate interest and some discussion - but it dies off very quickly.

Views - most often is search engines and may or may not correspond to value.

Bookmarks (and Links) - seems to correspond pretty well - someone thinks it's worth referring to and/or get back to later.

In some ways, the fact that the first comment on this is 1.5 years later, but that there are 6 people who saved it on delicious indicates that it's not a bust as a post.