The Best of 25 Tech Voices” vs “The Best 25 Tech Voices”

Read that title again because there is a HUGE difference that's getting lost online.

I hate to bash the neat new tech feed feature of John Battelle's Federated Media because I think John is one of the most sincere fellows out there and really wants to bring quality AND commercial viability to the blogosphere. I'm for both those things.

Also, I like the collection which appears "good". But this is not the *best* collection of posts because it only reflects those in the Federated stable – a very, very small fraction of intelligent commentary.

I'd be a hypocrite to blame Battelle for compromising online quality in favor of business. HOWEVER when does this cross the line? If Battelle had restricted all quoted people in his excellent book "The Search" to those with whom he did business it would not even have made it out of the publisher's office and even John would agree he'd be horrible to show such bias in a printed book.

Yet online we've all started to expect the worst commercialism and then be relieved – or even inspired – if a company simply pushes out quality and announces that it favors people with whom it has a commercial connection.

One's attention only spans a tiny fraction of total content. As Federated, TechCrunch, and all of us choose to read and post more about our internet home boys than those with whom we have no association then how narrow and commercial is this all going to get?

Isn't blogging supposed to destabilize rather than enforce this narrowing focus of our limited attention?

SPAM is in the eye of the beholder?

For many the term web spam simply means unwanted junk email, but in the search community the definition of spam tends to be far more comprehensive and, to me, confusing. Obviously totally irrelevant junk is spam, but what about poorly written, marginally relevant information written by a seventh grade student about her class project dealing with asbestosis?

Few would call THAT grade school project "spam", yet most internet professionals would say "spam" if the *exact same information" was prepared by an outsourced team in an effort to rank for the term "asbestosis" becuase it fetches big money on the pay per click market.

In this example intention is defining the material as spam and that approach bothers me. I appreciate he fact that major search engines lean in the direction of objective measurements of relevancy, which probably do not attempt to factor intention into the equation except in extreme cases where, for example, Matt's spam team would ban a site for manipulation.

I suppose in this case they'd probably apply different metrics to the two sites above though I'm guessing they very rarely apply non-objective analysis. For one thing it's not scalable. For another it's hard (impossible?) to define subjective criteria.