When I posted Advertising to the Community: Is PageRank a Good Model for Social Media? a couple of days ago, I was working in a vacuum. I was responding to some degree to the infamous BusinessWeek article, and to the comments Matt Rhodes made on the idea of PageRank being used to rate social media participation.
Turns out I am not alone in criticizing this simplistic approach rating the importance and relevance of conversations and community. Mark Earls comments on the power of super-users [here], and how the focus on these influencers misses the entire point of community and conversation. John Bell of the Digital Influence Mapping Project and Ogilvy points out that the relationships in social media and online communities are inherently more complex than creating a value based on the number of interactions someone has with a community [here].
This conversation is becoming very interesting. There are a lot of very bright people who are considering many different approaches to ranking the importance of a conversation or a community based not only on who is participating, but how engaged people are.
If communities or conversations are run and directed by a select group of people, then they are called dictatorships or lectures. Breaking down, rather than erecting, barriers is why social media is such a powerful force.