A Definition of Web Clog
Our information and web digestion process is helped with today’s aggregators and Web 2.0 systems. These interfaces are developed specifically to sort and filter fresh content and data with ease. New sites are emerging that allow users to simplify their searches, and refine the massive amount of data available to actually answer to the query, or request for the search. Finding something online is no longer a simple step to enter something into a search box, and click for a response. Although sites such as Ask.com, Yahoo! Answers, and even Google are making attempts to provide the ‘most refined’ and targeted results, this is a work in progress.
While the major search engines continue to plug away at better techniques and ways to find specific data, the average user often experiences a sense of mental fog and disorientation at information overload. If they haven’t taken the steps to see what the major players are moving towards, it’s easy to get stuck into a rut of search result-finding that brings little or no return on investment. Web Clog happens when people are not all using the same search techniques and steps to obtain information. Even if your neighbors and friends are all using Google for their preferred search engine of choice, there are still thousands of others using MSN Search or Yahoo!’s toolbars. The result? Information that is coming from multiple avenues, although very similar in form and structure, still doesn’t answer some basic questions. If it still takes multiple search engine sites to bring a final conclusion or further a research process, web clog is imminent when you keep getting back outdated, unrefined, or even illegitimate data that then has to be pieced together to make something worthwhile.
The phenomenon is evident on hundreds of today’s blogs. Whether it’s a social, political, or research blog, the quality of the content within it is highly dependent on the user’s ability to search and find relevant and critical information. If they’re linking up to outdated or irrelevant data and websites, this only increases the chances of poor circulation. And reader indigestion, however miniscule, can add up to some major Web Clog.
Consider the multitude of Adsense ‘nonsense’ sites out in cyberspace. The web space taken up by these spam-friendly sites is rising alongside the intelligent and noteworthy blogs and sites. This increases web clog exponentially, and doesn’t look like it’s going to disappear anytime soon. Doing a basic search for certain keywords may bring up thousands of results, but only a very small portion will prove to be useful, relevant, and worthy of further clicking. Not only is it frustrating to get return results of a page full of ads and links, but it makes it much more difficult to track performance of a particular website, content piece, or even real visitor behavior. These sites and blogs have been coined ‘Splogs’ by the Wall Street Journal, a pure definition of a Spam Blog that take up considerable space on search engines.
The increases and opportunities of RSS readers and social networking portals that link up and link in, are furthering the activity and traffic options on the web today. Think of it as creating new pathways at an exponential level, allowing you to shoot from one site to another in the shortest distance. Although it’s a much better way to find refined information, there are still high risks of ending up at a dead end; namely a splog or dead link that just sits there and creates a clog for a particular search term or keyword. Google News is a great example of an aggregator site that brings a constant flow of content up and through its system. This ‘rolling news’ model is great for daily reference, but can contribute to Web Clog when spammers and even inaccurate data gets into the system itself. It’s not a virus, but the vehicle of news spreading in this way leaves open the opportunity for ‘bad’ news or poor-quality information to spread faster than ever.
The phenomenal growth and capacity of the Internet today cannot be undermined, and we are in the middle of a revolutionary change as businesses and social networks move towards Web 2.0 designs and infrastructures. However, with any growth opportunity there are considerable side effects. One of today’s side effects is the Web Clog phenomena, and time will tell how we manage to salvage and sort the valuable from the irrelevant in the information age. Companies and publishers that begin to use metatags, careful keyword selection, provide quality content, and include timely and accurate data in their published work, can fare well in the long run.