Mary Hodder (napsterization) proposes an alternate ranking system for blogs. The current ranking systems depend largely on inbound links and has the odd effect of making the popular bloggers even more popular, bringing the blogosphere ever closer to the mass media.

There was a time when the web was a small community. When I started working on web software in 1995, a search on Yahoo! would list a small number of results. I don’t know whether the whole web was indexed, but I think they kept up with the majority of it. I could view most of the web pages on a topic that interested me and make my own choices about what was most interesting and credible. When the Shockwave player was released, we could view every Shockwave movie that was created as it came on-line.

As the web grew larger, it became more challenging to keep up. Thanks to the innovations of the search engines, we can do a quick search and find something relevant to our area of interest most of the time. However, with the creation of these search and ranking algorithms certain voices are omitted. I rarely look at more than a few pages of search results. Is it possible that the pages that would be most relevant to me might be later in the list? Or even worse, because of some artifact of gender use patterns could it be that pages more interesting to me will often be toward the end of the list?

I like the idea of tracking conversations instead of purely inbound links. If we had an alternate index that tracked only links from posts (rather than blogrolls and other collections), then we might see where conversations are happening.
Adina Levin describes this as a cloud presentation.

Mary Hodder has collected quotes and links on this topic (here and here).

What do you think?