Anyone who writes a blog is curious about who’s reading it and is usually interested to read on similar topics. Both of those motivations lead to an interest in blog aggregators, sites that bring together blog posts from around the world.
Some of these are automatic, based on keywords in the posts. In most cases these turn out to be spam sites, promoting a product or service. I suspect that the large number of hits I received on a post about youth may have come from an automatic aggregator.
There are also more intentional aggregations such as blog rolls or blog carnivals. At blog carnival, for example, you can find carnivals on many topics, and submit your own posts to them. You can also create a new carnival on a topic of your choice. Some of the existing ones are elaborate, representing considerable effort, such as Carnival of Education. But even the best of the carnivals have a little of that quality of random listing that one sees in the spam aggregators.
There are now in between sites, such as Alpha Inventions or Condron. For these, new posts are harvested automatically, but you can also submit a post and categorize it. Visitors to the aggregator site see a slide show like presentation of other sites, often constrained by topic or language. This leads to an enormous boost in hits on blog posts, especially from Alpha Inventions.
Lesley Dewar has been running some experiments on this at No Tall Poppies. I plan to replicate those here, and share the results.
The big question of course, is not whether some scheme can produce more visits to a web page, but what if anything leads people to engage in what they read, to think critically, and to integrate that with their own experiences. My guess is that somewhere in all the surfing, syndication, aggregation, cross-linking, and such, that there are occasional sparks of real connection, but that there’s also a lot of smoke without fire.