Who ranks who?

Interesting question posed by Matthew Hurst in the context of the Future of Search (FoS) event held at Berkeley:

My contribution to the debate centered on the distinction between social media (e.g. blogs) and the main stream web. Currently, the main stream search engines are doing a poor job of integrating social media in their results. Conversely, blog search engines take no advantage of the main stream web to analyse the influence and content of blogs. Social media may be thought of as an annotation stream on the main stream web. This model suggests some interesting ways to get leverage out of the differences between these two areas of the web. Main stream web can be used to rank social media content, and social media (blog) content could be used to rank the main stream web.

I can see how social media content could be used to rank mainstream web, pointing out interesting items as they rise and fall from the mass of content, the only concern I have there is that social media tends to have a very short attention span, stuff is interesting for a few days and then everyone moves onto the next attraction.

On the other hand it is harder for me to see how the mainstream web could be used to rank social media content. I imagine it would be interesting to see what is being said on a particular topic, like a news item (we are already seeing that.)

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