Early this morning I read and shared a post by Zemanta cofounder Bostjan Spetic. Bostjan reveals his findings that most Zemanta users are for more interested in relevance over popularity. After sharing the message, I received an instant reply from a good friend Mahendra Palsule:
It made sense to Mahendra that the community of Zemanta users (bloggers) is biased towards content relevance over popularity. Mahendra just happens to be one of my favorite social web/tech bloggers* and I rely on his perspective to enrich my own views based on trust.
Consider the correlation of social web users who prefer relevance over popularity, and how the Internet is made up of many threaded subnets, not just technically but socially. Many users may mix the definition of popularity and relevance, but to me these are two drastically different concepts. For most information (outside of major catastrophes, breakthroughs, and war) relevance is highly personal. A community which shares interests, can also share a feeling of relevance for content. Popularity is powered by raw numbers, with no consideration for individual preference. Imagine the entire world dominated by averages. Average art, pop music, average companies, average style, and average startups. It would pale in comparison to the wonderful diversity that exists today.
I wondered if there is correlation in those who prefer popularity over relevance to the number of browsers who only skim articles (85-90%)? This group would define a large surface browsing web. Of course there's an entire sub-web with content specifically targeting that behavior. There's also another web, where the community both publishes and consumes content more deeply. And there are many networks between and surrounding these examples. The Net continues to surprise and fascinate me as it evolves, and we change with it. Where do each of us belong in the continuum of layered webs?
Although I appreciate the global convergence of like minds, I'm terrified by the plague of group think. My interests and the nature of the web allow me to move effortlessly between communities without fear of excommunication.
*note, Just a few of my favorite web tech bloggers: Louis Gray, Mahendra Palsule, Robert Scoble, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Fred Wilson and many more.