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Microdoc Documents the Lifecycle of a Story in the Blogosphere

Yesterday, Doc Searls pointed out that Microdoc News has done some interesting research into the dynamics of a story that is widely reported in the weblog community. Microdoc analyzed 45 different stories that appeared on several weblogs, and found several different evolutionary patterns. These patterns show the ways that weblogs influence each other.

The degree of influence that weblogs have upon each other is definitely the most interesting feature of the community, from the perspective of many analysts. It is obvious and well documented because the weblog community is entirely on-line, and meaningful statistics can be gathered both by automated means and by human observation.

Influence of one "traditional media outlet" over another is harder to measure in this fashion. It is argued by some media analysts that the national news programs on NBC, ABC, and CBS often broadcast stories that are derived from articles that appeared in The New York Times earlier in the day. But, such conclusions appear anecdotal because the Times puts a lot more of their best current content on the Internet than the broadcast networks. Also, broadcast news sites do not generally link to the New York Times or any other media outlet to show an explicit relationship between their story and what appeared in print elsewhere.

Doc's article points to the Microdoc research piece in the context of a continuing thread on mainstream media complaints about the influence of weblogs on results from search engines like Google. In order to appreciate what he is saying, it may be necessary to go back to several previous stories, including the aricle called "Printwash", where he discusses the possible loss of influence by major print publications like The New York Times because they place recent news stories in archives that are not accessible unless a fee is paid.

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