What's all this social news stuff, anyhow?

Glaskowsky ponders the role of Digg, Reddit, Technorati, deli.cio.us, and other social news sites.

Tech Culture

I've been reading blogs since before the term "blog" came into popular use. Pioneers of the format such as Jerry Pournelle (jerrypournelle.com) and Robert Bruce Thompson (ttgnet.com) just called their sites "day books" or "journals," terms carried over from the world of paper and pen.

As a reader, all I really cared about was finding and reading blogs that were relevant to my interests. I usually relied on word of mouth and keeping my own bookmarks. I tried the social news sites such as Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit, and Technorati when they appeared since the idea behind these sites appealed to me, but their signal-to-noise ratios were low. It meant more to me when a blogger I liked recommended another blogger directly. (I still visit Popurls every day; it's the easiest way to scan a bunch of headlines.)

But when I started blogging here on CNET, I gained another reason to care about the social sites. I've been lurking there more of late, and it looks like the quality of their content is improving. I've seen many examples of how a favorable mention on one of these sites can translate into a lot of additional page hits.

I've only been doing this for a couple of months, and I never expected instant results, but I still find it difficult to figure out how to take full advantage of these sites. I'm not inclined to go plug my own stuff, so I think I'll just leave that up to you, my readers. I did claim this blog over on Technorati, and it's semi-entertaining to watch my "Authority" score go up as other sites mention this one. Several of these cross-links are actually from other parts of the massive CNET empire, so I don't think they really count... but if you leave that aside, my Technorati authority only just recently went up to 11, meaning there are now only 586,264 blogs in the world more frequently linked to than mine. :-)

If anyone cares to suggest specific methods for improving my visibility in the blogosphere, please leave me a comment or drop me an email (the address is in my first post here). I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

By the way, the title today is a quick homage to Bob Pease, another one of my inspirations in the areas of engineering and journalism. Pease, a staff scientist at National Semiconductor, is a true god of electrical engineering and a darn good writer. His columns for Electronic Design cover a lot of ground and are often wickedly funny to boot.

Pease is also the author of Troubleshooting Analog Circuits, which is utterly indispensable for any hands-on engineer-- including those who believe they're only working on digital circuits. (Perhaps especially for those engineers.) And in looking up a URL for that book, I see Pease is about to come out with another book: Analog Circuits (World Class Designs) from Newnes. The book won't be published until November, but I ordered my copy sight unseen; Pease is that good.

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