I’m obsessed about the viral flow of information throughout the internet, especially through blogs. There are a ton of sites that track link popularity on blogs, including blogdex, popdex, bloogz and blogpulse. If you’re curious about what topics people are discussing online, one of these sources is your best bet. You could also try visiting one of the more popular blogs, since most people re-post or expand upon stories they saw on these blogs. Good bets are FARK, BoingBoing, MetaFilter, Memepool, Milkandcookies, eBaum’s World, Kontraband, Attu sees all or GOYK. There are also more specialized places to get technology news (Slashdot, Engadget, Gizmodo) or political news (Eschaton, Daily Kos, Instapundit).
What we have is a vast network (an internet, perhaps) of bloggers and sites all referencing cool information and one another. How do you keep track of it all? Well, first off, you could get an RSS reader like Sharp Reader (PC) or NetNewsWire (Mac) to keep up with your favorite blogs all in one place. My Yahoo! and Bloglines provide the same functionality, only web-based. Still, you’ll likely end up reading a ton of sites and visiting one of the popularity indexes just to keep up.
Yesterday I discovered a newer, more exciting player in this space: del.icio.us. The site allows users to create an account and then store and categorize bookmarks they enjoy. The bookmarks are communal, so anyone can see your favorite sites and vice versa. This means del.icio.us also has a popularity tracking system. del.icio.us describes the whole shebang thusly: “del.icio.us is a social bookmarks manager. It allows you to easily add sites you like to your personal collection of links, to categorize those sites with keywords, and to share your collection not only between your own browsers and machines, but also with others.”
Plus, you can use the data from del.icio.us in a ton of ways. You can grab an RSS feed of any user’s links or create a feed of links for your blog. Instead of publishing all your cool viral links directly on your blog, you can keep them on del.icio.us and repurpose them as you see fit. It’s pre-pre-alpha, but it’s still very cool.
So there you have it. A meandering dissertation about the movement of information on the internet. Click forth and be informed, entertained, enraged, satiated and ultimately spent.