Down below the fold of today’s entertainment section at the print edition of the Los Angeles Times is a nice little “Web Scout” column by David Sarno about BoingBoing editor Xeni Jardin quietly unpublishing posts that linked to her former close friend or relationship partner (Jardin is unclear about this, as is her right) Violet Blue, the sex writer.
Sarno’s article is a good account of the blogosphere’s need for transparency and how Jardin has potentially violated that, but he misses a big economic point about Google Juice, and in so doing makes Jardin look like a tweaked cliche (hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned) rather than a shrewd businesswoman thinking that she doesn’t need to help the cause of a now-former ally.
When Jardin removes BoingBoing links to Blue’s work she isn’t simply saying, “nah nah, we’re not friends anymore.” BoingBoing is a site with huge traffic, and the way Google’s search functionality (its PageRank algorithm) works the more links go to a site the higher it ends up in the search results.
If Blue has any kind of revenue sharing agreement for her San Francisco Chronicle work where she gets paid more if she gets more traffic, then Jardin’s action will hit her in the pocketbook. Similarly, while it’s unclear to me if Blue’s Tiny Nibbles blog and website has advertisements beyond a Helio sponsorship, Blue’s ability to get a replacement sponsor for the soon-to-be-defunct Helio will be constrained if her traffic goes down.
Even if there is no economic impact (which I find unlikely), if Jardin removes references to Blue’s work then Blue’s Google-powered fame and influence go down.
In the blogosphere as well as everywhere else, you have to follow the money.
Note: the L.A. Times website oddly does not have the print article available in the “print edition” section of the site, although they do have a downloadable PDF of the front page. You can see a snippet of it by clicking here.