Clay Shirky on Weblogs & Power Laws

Glenn just linked it this morning, but I feel I should mention Shirky’s excellent commentary on power laws and how they relate to weblogs and their popularity.
Clay’s recent effort is actually an expansion/clarification of earlier thoughts he shared last year, which I commented upon at the time. It also uses my old Blogosphere Ecosystem project as one example demonstrating how power laws naturally emerge in social systems.
Since the Ecosystem is back in the spotlight, it seems appropriate for me to provide an update on both that project and my related work on the Weblog MetaData Initiative.
The obvious truth is that the Ecosystem has been shut down for a very long time, in large part because Phil did such a great job replacing it with his own Myelin Ecosystem. And WMDI, which was the project I had focused on as a ‘sequel’, has been moving extremely slowly: a problem almost entirely due to my own lack of focus on it.
Despite this, both projects will move forward, and I remain committed to them. Appropriately, or perhaps ironically, I had spent yesterday morning working on a completely re-worked version of the Ecosystem, only to find Clay’s newsletter in my Inbox that afternoon, declaring it to be “sadly defunct” (an understandable misperception, and no offense taken on my part).
When it re-emerges, my intention is for the new Ecosystem to be a prototype application incorporating the ideas of WMDI. To summarize for those who are not familiar with the metadata project: it is my goal to aid in the creation of standards and infrastructure that will allow projects like the Ecosystem, Blogdex, Blogstreet, and other applications to both collect more relevant data on weblogs and their contents, and share that data effectively between applications. In a nutshell: I think the current environment has far too many folks spending far too much effort re-inventing the wheel on how to gather data on weblogs, and my hope is that the creation of open standards in the ‘metadata space’ could lead to a revolutionary new wave of applications to make finding and reading weblogs easier and more rewarding.
Anyway, my philosophy at this point is that I’ll share thoughts and updates like this when it is appropriate, but for the most part, I’m focusing on the real work of driving these efforts forward, and I’ll let you know when I produce something worthwhile. There will most certainly be a time when I’ll be looking for help from other folks, however, and so if you’re interested, by all means, drop me a line or comment here and I’ll let you know when I’ve gotten things back on track.