Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Linguistics

(randomly discovered blog miresua conlang)

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, there is a remarkable prevalence of what I'll call quazi-linguistics blogs on Try, as I just did, using the "Next Blog" button above at the top left of this page ten or more times. Each time it will take you to a randomly selected blog within the blogger network of blogs (No, I'm wrong here. see update below). It's pretty cool. Almost as good as StumbleUpon. But I suspect you'll find, as I did, a preponderance of language/linguistic related blogs. My rough estimate was 60% of the blogs were language related. Now, this was driven up a bit by many ESL sites, but that counts, as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, the quality of these blogs was poor, at best (e.g., see the tiresome anti-passive voice post here).

Why are so many bloggers blogging about language issues? Maybe Geoff Nunberg is right and "the Internet turns everybody into a linguist" (see here).

UPDATE: Commenter MPJ cleared up the mystery.'s Next Blog button is NOT random (it used to be).'s explanation here (HT The Real Blogger Status). Money quote:

We've made the Next Blog link more useful, by taking you to a blog that you might like. The new and improved Next Blog link will now take you to a blog with similar content, in a language that you understand. If you are reading a Spanish blog about food, the Next Blog link will likely take you to another blog about food. In Spanish!

I'd be interested to know if they're using the same technology as their Ad Sense product to detect "similarity." How do they determine the anchor blog?

Also, I think I can still make a similar claim to my original one: of the blogs that are related to language, most are prescriptivist. Fair?


MPJ said...

You might be interested to know that the "Next Blog" button does not take you to a blog selected uniformly at random from the entire population of Blogger residents, but from the population of blogs topically related to the blog you're presently viewing. Thus, if you start on a linguistics blog, you will likely stay on language related blogs even if you press the button many times. I do not know if the topics would slowly drift away from linguistics, or if you would just start seeing lots of repeats.

MPJ said...

For the past 30 minutes, I've hit the "Next" button, starting at an economics blog ( and have started seeing many repeats and only minimal wandering of topic.

Now that we can all sleep having learned this, I am going to stop procrastinating and start working.

Chris said...

Ahhhh, this makes sense. I googled around a bit and found Blogger's explanation here . Thanks!

Lilac Sunday. said...

The Next Blog function does not work as advertised. I am being directed to blogs about babies and wedding photography, although neither has anything to do with my blog. I preferred the randomness.

kami said...

Oh!!! I had no idea they had changed it.
They should add something like the "I don't like it" button in SU so they don't show me more ESL/EFL blogs...

Chris said...

yeah, SU and Netflix both have been working on recommended systems for awhile now. It's not like Google discovered the idea, hehe.