Blogs are a Cloud Chamber, not an Echo Chamber

I'm getting a little annoyed at how articles, stories and information propagate through various blogs and other content Internet sites.

I'm an information junkie and am interested in geeky projects, politics and secular issues; so I have over a hundred blogs and news sources in my Google Reader.

I've noticed that stories filter through several of my RSS feeds. The popular label for this phenomenon is the “Echo Chamber”; but that's not a very good analogy because content isn't merely echoed from blog to blog. I think that a better analogy is a “Cloud Chamber” because content seems to explode into the 'net and spin its way through blogs and websites.

Each bit of content starts with an initial energy from a news distribution source or an individual offering something new and interesting via his or her website or blog. The content then spins in a somewhat predictable way through several sites and blogs, all while throwing off similar “particles” of content as it is amplified or allowed to decay into obscurity. Many blogs add so much energy to a story that the content will achieve a much higher energy level than it had during its original appearance.

And just as in a cloud chamber, I can almost determine the nature of a story just by following the track that it makes through blogs and news sites. Gadgets appear most often in Endgadget and will spin through Boing Boing before throwing decayed particles through MAKE and Slashdot – final decay happens as it is scattered through A and B list bloggers. Political content particles spring out of different news media, and are accelerated to higher energy levels by The Daily Kos, Michelle Malkin, Think Progress, The Huffington Post or others.

If I didn't have work and other commitments I would be interested in compiling a listing of different content tracks that would be useful in identifying the type of content being tracked. I wonder if it would offer a better way of searching for content? Hey Google, are you listening?

What most annoys me about the Blogging Cloud Chamber is that very little original content is added to a story as it spins its way through an average site. Energy is added, but interesting new properties are seldom discovered about the original content. I find this frustrating because some bloggers do offer fascinating commentary on the implications of a story, and some manage to connect data in a way that adds to our basic store of knowledge. I just don't know if or when this happens.

(sigh) I need a tool that watches for fascinating, high-energy content, and keeps track of the interesting decay particles generated as the content spins through the Blogging Cloud Chamber. I know Particle Physicists have such a tool – they call 'em “Graduate Students”.

1 comment:

Ragnarock'n'roll said...

Fairly good metaphor here. I am also disappointed by the lack of original content created in blogs, but they do seem to work best as an amplifier for interesting or relevant ideas to spread them. Hopefully someone's cool original content gains popularity, but as with every medium, that's pretty rare. It really takes quite the patience to find the good original content from so widely disseminated a source- a tool for expediting this is practically worthy of a dissertation.