According to preliminary research by Bryian Murley, I am one of the 50 most influential emerging church bloggers.
Now I know my technorati rankings have been going up in recent months but this still comes as a surprise. I mean, I didn’t even think I was using technorati all that effectively, I don’t even tag the majority of my posts! I’ll be interested to see how the research pans out and what other surprise entries Bryan comes up with.
7 thoughts on “50 Most Influential Blogs”
Cool, so I am *not* an emerging church blog. According to Technorati and their method, I should be on their list, but I’m not.
FWIW, I have done all the right things with tags and the like and I don’t think it has made muich difference in terms of the emerging church scene. My traffic has remained pretty constant for a year now.
I am taking this all with a grain of salt till Bryan tightens his research up.
I noted our rankings in the EC leader board both vary significantly depending on whether you’re search for “emerging church” or “emerging+church”. This has already been noted by one respondent and highlights the problem of relying on search engine terms. What would happen, for instance, if I followed through with my grips about “emerging church” jargon and dropped references from my blog altogether? Would I suddenly drop to being a person of “zero influence”, invisible to such researchers, even if I was still chatting about the same issues and engaging with the same people? It seems I may and it concerns me that this less than sentient technology subtly reinforces meticulous jargon usage. So beyond yourself, what about bloggers who influence the conversation without directly identifying with the labels at all? Do they get no acknowledgement either?
One more point to note. The technorati ranking system seems to place far more value on the number of “sites” connected to a given blog than the number of “links” so that could explain some differences. How valid this is as a measure of influence and what relative weights technorati applies between the two is just one other thing I think needs to be scrutinised.
It is interesting to note that on the 20 July 2006 the BBC carried an item
“Numbers Cut Through Blogging Hype”.
The article refers to 2 surveys conducted of bloggers, one by MSN in the UK, and one by the Pew Foundation in the US.
The MSN survey was of 750 active bloggers and some of the results reported were:
a). One-third of the 750 use blogs primarily for technology news;
b). 60% use blogging purely as an on-line diary
The Pew survey was of just 233 active bloggers but the results reported that 65% of them do not consider their blogs as journalistic and prefer to look to mainstream media sources for news. The blogging again is very much as a “dear diary”.
The link by the way to the BBC item is
For proper research on the EC and influential blogs it would really require much more technical precision and broader criteria than just drawing on technorati’s monitoring of tags and sites and links. A survey could ascertain how readers/consumers of blogs respond to specific EC blogs:
a). In time-units how long do readers spend delving through a specific blog (like reading every day, or reading through monthly archives).
b). In what ways do the contents of specific blogs translate into influence in the lives, thoughts and actions of readers?
c). Do readers of blogs access the EC blogs for “fun”, for “new ideas on church and missions”, for “tech information”?
d). Is influence measurable by mere “links”? By “how many tracker hits”? By “how many comments are left”?
Those are a few of the sorts of matters one would need for to investigate if one is going to undertake technically precise social-scientific research. The problem of reification lurks here — if an idea is projected out as it it represents “reality”, and sufficient numbers of people concur with that projected reality, it can take on a life of its own even though it may not correspond to social realities that can be assessed by observers.
Philip. I like your questions but am not sure how accurate data can reasonably be gathered. Typepad’s in-built tracker is far more basic than your plug-in and no where near sophisticated enough to track average time people spend on my blog. I suspect other bloggers may be in the same boat so electronic data gathering has its limits.
Now an alternative could be to solicit data from blog readers through some sort of survey, via emergingchurch.info for instance, but of course you then have to contend with the element of subjectivity. I recently answered a survey of theobloggers along these lines and frankly I don’t know how accurate some of my responses were given the fact I trance out and loose track of time on the net. It seems to me like I spend x amount of time blogging, but who really knows?
Another question we need to ask re influence is *who* are we influencing? A quick scan of public comments left on my blog is revealing. I influence comparatively more non-Christians and ecoteric Christians than some EC bloggers and comparatively fewer EC bloggers. This would seem to be further supported by my trackbacks behind the scenes. So what sort of influence is being measured? Is it in-house or out-reach influence? A technorati based approach wouldn’t seem to distinguish between the two. Back to my previous point – any survey through emergingchurch.info is reasonably only going to measure in-house influence. How would we measure out-reach influence on a wide scale?
The sort of survey I envisage in that hypothetical would be conducted by credentialled social scientists and would be done on a face to face interview basis; such a survey could even be conducted on a collaborative and international basis (if it was funded) — a little bit like the NCLS which last time around was co-ordinated in 5 countries.
A proper social scientific project would not merely rely on technorati, site meter, extreme tracker sources, although it could include that data. Rather a proper interview would track through many probing questions with those who blog regularly and those who merely read blogs or search for topics on blogs parallel to search engine searches all over the Internet.
As to the “time” factor, this could be measured a bit like the radio ratings where a firm knocks on doors, seeks collaborators in the survey, leaves them with a log-book to fil in each day, and after a designated period the log-books are gathered in.
In other words a merely digitally based approach (scooping up technorati or even the new google facility of what words are frequently entered in search requests) will not be sufficient to properly ascertain and gauge how users perceive, consume etc the blogosphere (whether in general or topic specific to Churches using blogs).
Interesting discussion. My point with studying at King’s was to learn how to do (and do) sociological and ethnographic research into religious topics. I even wrote a couple of detailed research proposals for things in Australia.
Which generated zero interest. To be honest, I doubt I would spend time reading the results of an in-depth work on EC bloggers either. Heck, I just participated in a research project on UK theological bloggers and didn’t bother to read the results of that either.
The one good thing about this current “research” is that people are asking questions about the nature of “influence.” I have a great comment on my blog about that. Part of what is wrong with the EC ghetto of the blogosphere is the way it is entrall to it’s A-list celebrities.
Amongst the EC A-list there at least two blogs that I read for information purposes but have no influence on me and the same again that I neither read nor regard as useful (despite generating far more traffic than I ever will).
FWIW, the biggest slice of my blog’s traffic comes from people who neither have blogs, nor have a predeliction to comment on them. They are people I have actually met in the real world who are engaged in ministry and teaching. That “influence” matters far more to me than a technorati ranking.
Fernando, interesting comments and I like the direction of your thinking. It truely is the deep engagements that count. I prefer one good face to face conversation to a dozen blog hits. That’s the influence I live for, to spend time sharing with others in the spiritual journey. And I get far more gratification out of interacting with people in comments and private emails than watching my tracker.