I like Language Log, but I would like it even better if there were less of it.
Wouldn't it be keen if there were a site where you could enter the URL of any blog, and it would give you back a feed containing only half the entries—the best ones, according to whatever metric of popularity the service could find (links, diggs, whatever).
<humph> what's popular and what's interesting to me are not often the same for me<mhoye> humph++<mhoye> That sounds like a good way to be drowning in mediocrity, for sure.<mhoye> jorendorff: Apply your theory to popular music....<ted> so your theory is that if you like a blog enough to subscribe, you would like it even more if you only got the absolute best posts?<jorendorff> ted: my theory is that "absolute best posts" means something<mhoye> God, no.<mhoye> See also, "absolute best music", "absolute best paint color."
I failed several times at explaining why I think this. Let me try again here.
Simple ratings systems are common on the Web. Some, like the Slashdot comment ratings (“Score: 5, Insightful” and such) perform very well. Others, like online restaurant guides, are useless. Ratings work when users agree on what's good and what's bad. On Slashdot, the worst posts are pretty content-free. Subjective tastes don't even really enter into it. Restaurants are a different story. In the case of music, mhoye's example, I'm sure any two people can find plenty to disagree on. But:
<jorendorff> mhoye: do you have a favorite band?<mhoye> Not just one!<jorendorff> mhoye: I'm struggling to get you guys to engage on any specific example :(<mhoye> Jorendorff: Ok, here. "Entertainment", by "Gang Of Four".<jorendorff> mhoye: excellent - what are your favorite songs off that album?* mhoye picks "I Found That Essence Rare" and "Anthrax"
Both of mhoye's picks are among what the Apple Store calls the “TOP SONGS” from that album. Both are mentioned in Apple's review. Maybe mhoye picked them because they're the best tracks on the album.
Counterexamples abound too. We could settle this scientifically by sampling a blog's audience, having those people rate posts for a while, and seeing how closely their ratings correlate.
Instead, let's play a silly game. See if you can stand to read these two entries from my old writing journal: Zen in space and the swoon. I believe one of those is about as good as I can write and the other is flat-out bad. I furthermore immodestly claim that those are two different things! And I think you might agree with me on which is which. We'll see (if you're willing) in the comments.