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friday :: march 12, 2004
iRank: blog epidemic analyzer

Beyond serving as online diaries, weblogs have evolved into a complex, interconnected social structure through which ideas flow. Such a structure is ideal for the study of memes and the propagation of information. In this paper we describe general meme categories and create a tool to infer and visualize the paths that specific memetic infections take through the network. This inference is based in part on a novel utilization of data describing historical, repeating patterns of infection. We conclude with a description of a new ranking algorithm, iRank, for blogs. In contrast to traditional ranking strategies, iRank can act on the implicit link structure and dynamic information to find those blogs that lead in the production of new memes. >from *Implicit Structure and the Dynamics of Blogspace by Eytan Adar, Li Zhang, Lada A. Adamic, and Rajan M. Lukose from HP Information Dynamics Lab. 2004. See too Tracking Information Epidemics in Blogspace by Eytan Adar, and Lada A. Adamic.

Blog Epidemic Analyzer is a demonstration website for this research on information dynamics in blogspace. What they are trying to do is let users track how information propagates through networks. Specifically they are looking at how web based memes (for lack of a better term) get passed on from one user to another in blog networks. For their purpose memes are basically URLs. They are using crawls from Blogpulse, Automated Trend Discovery for Weblogs, powered by technology from the Intelliseek Applied Research Center.

There has been a lot of discussion over the fairness of blogs, powerlaws, and A-list bloggers. The reality is that some blogs get all the attention. This means that with ranking algorithms like Technorati's and Google's Page Rank highly linked blogs end up at the top of search pages. Sometimes (maybe frequently) this is what you want. However, it is also possible that you don't want the most connected blog. Rather you would like to find the blog that discovers new information first. By inferring the flow of information they build an alternative graph that adds previously invisible edges and re-ranks websites. They call this algorithm iRank.

related context
workshop on the weblogging ecosystem: aggregation, analysis and dynamics. a forum for presentation and discussion of research into the dynamics, sociology, and mining of the blogsphere. 13th world wide web conference, may 17-22, 2004.
> enhancing PageRank algorithm: topic-sensitive page rankings feasible. may 21, 2003
> word burstiness: scanning online trends. march 7, 2003
> semantic web, the second-generation web?. june 19, 2002
> weblog, a new flow of information. may 15, 2002

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