I just tried an odd new community tool, MyBlogLog. The system lets you "join" a blog or site, so you also see other people who are members of the site. If you happen to see someone you know (a friend, perhaps, or maybe an industry figure or famous person), you'll likely want to see what other sites they have joined. (By default, you become a member of a site after you've visited it 10 times.) It's a neat social networking tool and unique in that it requires no action from participants to join the sites with which they develop affiliations.
MyBlogLog also fosters community by enabling members of a site to have their own forum-like conversation about it, on a page--resembling MySpace--that's separate from the blog itself.
But there's an awkward side to MyBlogLog, too: If you're a MyBlogLog user, and you visit a site, and if the blog publisher has installed the right MyBlogLog widget, your face and name appears in the widget. I was surfing the Web and visited a site I'd never been to, and pow, there's my face on the site. That was weird--it made me wish I hadn't set up my profile with my real name or my picture.
MyBlogLog is a new service and I hope the team continues to tweak the privacy defaults so this kind of thing doesn't happen--unless users want it to.
Assuming things like this get fixed, it could become a very powerful networking tool. It shows you what your pals are reading and can really help you develop a stronger connection to your own online community.
For publishers, MyBlogLog is a gold mine. While the system does not send reports to publishers on exactly who visits their sites, it does collect very valuable aggregate data. It shows you the sites from which your users came to your site and what they click on to leave the site. In addition to the widget that shows faces of visitors, publishers can also install one that shows the most frequently clicked outgoing links within the blog. There's a free service, as well as a paid upgrade ($25 a year) that provides more timely data.
I would caution users who want to join MyBlogLog that they may find themselves looking at their own picture (which means other people will be also able to see it) when they visit a random Web site, and that might not be what they want. But sites that use the MyBlogLog tools are much more interesting to visit even if you're not a member, and the data the service provides to bloggers looks to be extremely useful.