Spheres of Interest: How blog readership grows

Australian blogger and techie Charles Miller, in The Fishbowl, not only gets AOL Journals, but he gets the way blogs work. In his recent wise post, he writes:
“…Blogging is a collaboratively filtered trust network. This is a fancy way of saying people who link to each other. In this community, a blog post comes into existence as a web of people’s attention. At the centre of the web is the blog on which the post lives. Radiating out from that centre are the people who subscribe to that blog. Traditionally, people who find a particular post interesting will create a link to it on their blog, extending the web to their readers. The reach of a particular post becomes an equation based on how many readers you have and how interesting the post is.
…New sites’ main avenue of promotion, on the other hand, is through trackbacks, comments and referrer logs. You get attention by commenting on some existing conversation in the blogosphere. If your comment is interesting, people will follow it back to the source, read some more, and perhaps subscribe.
To me, Charles is spot on with this description of how blogging works and how AOL Journals may–or may not–affect the blogosphere.
One potentially apt comparison is between AOL Journal and the About.com guide sites–On one hand, Guide sites have not affected the web, because they are amazingly disaggregateded and decentralized, vary widely in quality and size of audience they attract and have no overall branding.
On the other hand, they have had measurable mpact because Google search queries always surface a healthy percentage of Guide sides in response to questions, and that gives the sites an influence or weight that makes their model work.
AOL Journals may integrate into thBlogospherere in an analogous fashion–yet for the A list technology and bleeding edge bloggers, most of the AOL Blogs will live quite far down on the food chain. And yet, for AOlers in established AOL communities (I am thinking quilting,or military families, for example, or Elvis impersonators), those blogs could be significant thought leaders, information sources, and flash-points for discussion.