Tracking the Influence – the Conversation Index
A few days ago (I know, I know, I’m late to the party again. I prefer to say “fashionably late”…) Jeremiah posted a link to a white paper (PDF) he co-authored, titled Tracking the Influence of Conversations. It covers a lot of important concepts about measurement online, and how metrics are going to change—how they must change—going forward.
It’s well worth a read, especially if you’re new to the scene.
Going through the list of “important attributes” the panel came up with for measurement, I was unsurprised to note how many of them were in many ways completely nebulous. How do you track relationships? or relevance?
One of my favorite ideas is Stowe Boyd’s “Conversation Index,” which is a concept that’s very familiar to me. I started blogging in 2001 on LiveJournal, and on LJ there were two ways to figure out how important someone was: the ratio of friends (so, how many people read you vs. how many people you read) and the ratio of comments (how many comments have you made, how many have you received).
A perfect example of this is TheFerrett, a big-wig livejournaler I’ve read for years. If you look at his user info page, you’ll see that he was 273 friends, and he’s the friend of 2686 people. That’s a pretty good ratio.
Now comments. He’s posted 27,782. And he’s received 194,030. Awesome. This guy is big stuff. He’s got an extremely active readership of almost 3,000 people.
As crude as that data is, it’s a pretty good guideline on Livejournal. I imagine Boyd’s Conversation Index as something similar, tacked out to the blogosphere at large.
Like anything else in this medium, it’s hardly the raw data that companies want. I can give you six-hundred reasons it’s a bad metric right now, starting with the commenting culture in the blogosphere at large–it’s not set up the same way it is in LJ. But it would make for a pretty good guideline as to who “matters” and who “doesn’t”.*
* In reality, everybody matters. Hell I get about 2 comments every month on my personal blog, and I still matter. But maybe that’s just my big ego talking.