June 18, 2005

Blogs and power laws

A couple of years ago Jason Kottke shared insight into how power law distributions relate to the web.

Quoting from the post: "Many systems and phenomena are distributed according to a power law distribution. A power law applies to a system when large is rare and small is common. The distribution of individual wealth is a good example of this: there are a very few rich men and lots & lots of poor folks. It's been shown that the distribution of links on the web scales according to a power law, so it comes as no surprise that the distribution of links to weblogs does as well."

Leo said something interesting the other day: "the web is fractal in that it has a similar level of complexity at all scales" (or something like that - Leo feel free to correct the quote). This power law thing seems like it might work at any scale. The web as a whole follows a power law. The blogoshpere follows it. Does an individual site follow it (http://www.cor.org/ or www.umc.org)? What about a section of a site (www.cor.org/missions or web.umc.org)? I'm thinking it does.

If that's the case, what does this tell us about site design? Well, obviously, the most important stuff must be on the highest-traffic pages. Traffic falls off rapidly from the top (root) page of a tree of pages to the bottom (leaf) pages.

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