Brian's Waste of Time

Thu, 28 Dec 2006

Echo Chamber

So, the PragProg list is alive with "what language for 2007?" following Dave and Andy's most fun piece of advice. The most popular seem to be Haskell and Groovy, with a splattering of C# 3.0, F#, and Ruby's thrown in. This reminded me that I ha finally gotten around to doing some real work with my LOTY for, er, yea, 2004. I couldn't recall what year it was actually for, so went back and searched my archives (side note, I need a better way of digging through archives than happening to know how blosxom builds URIs) until I found it. This was a nice reminisce through a bunch of stuff I wrote in late 2003, and I bumped across a reference to a guy I had a couple interesting conversations with then, Udi Dahan.

I clicked through to his blog, and holy shinola, right on top was another reminisce: O/R Mapping! Poking around his blog it looks like he has done well for himself in last couple years, a Microsoft MVP, a podcast with Dr. Dobbs, and a seat on the SOA bandwagon (though, as I recall, he was all excited about SOA back in 2003 when we argued about things like persistence in an SOA). Anyway, branching out from Udi's blog you enter into a different realm where the conversation is on a totally different set of topics than it is branching out from my blog. They discuss things like methodology and datasets vs o/r mapping :-) We, er, actually there has been a dearth of god debate and conversation in my blogging circles lately, which has been sad.

Anyway, it drove home how much of an echo chamber a blogging community can be. You wind up hearing the same conversation echoed back a thousand times, and eventually get tired of hearing it. Wandering around the MS-centric blogs (branching out from Udi's) the other day was a nice refresher. I don't have a great answer for how to best break out of it. Really, you self select into what is interesting for you. Some way of envisioning the groups of conversations would be pretty handy. Actually, I am confident that they are also good things -- it magnifies small ideas to bounce around and polish until they become good ideas.

Regardless, it is fun to find new things, and crossover does happen so a simple link-based analysis of groups over time could be really interesting. I know some folks who did it for mailing lists and CVS logs. I am shocked Technorati doesn't provide a clique browser of some sort. Aside from being interesting on its own, it could be a handy tool for finding new feeds, and expanding your circle. Admittedly, the cool kids never want to be listed in directories, you are supposed to just know about them. The nice thing, though, is that the data is all public, so woot :-) Maybe, in my copious free time, I'll poke at it.

Heck, there may be some very interesting things for trend spotting in it. I'll hypothesize that the hot-new-thing for a given blogging networks comes in via an active reference from someone in the circle to something outside of it. For memes (in the idea sense, not the chain letter sense) which bridge across separate or loosely connected networks I bet we see something like an adoption curve, and that the same group-within-group brings in fresh materially. The scale-free network shape of blogging communities has been documented (I am offline so no links, sorry) before. I wonder how often the new-idea people are the highly connected people, vs simply having the right connections. I suspect they correlate but not particularly highly.

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