February 08, 2005

Have you been feeling antsy lately?

Ants have four Prime Directives:
  • Look for Food
  • If you come across green pheromone, follow it to the food ... otherwise, just wander around randomly
  • Pick Food Up
  • If you come across food, pick it up and turn around
  • Bring Food Home
  • Follow the pheromones home, dropping more pheromones as you go to reinforce the trail
  • Drop Food Off
  • Once you're home, drop the food off and turn around to get more
Out of those directives, some very interesting behaviour emerges:
  • Ants quickly find the closest food sources, and work together to consume it
  • Random scouts luck across food sources even though they are very far away
  • The ants focus on the closest food sources, consuming them until they are all gone
That sounds pretty bloggy! Once you translate some of the terms involved (ants = bloggers, food sources = articles/blog posts), it's not hard to reconfigure the ant rules into Blogging Directives:
  • Look for News
  • If you come across a link to a news story, follow it to the article/blog post... otherwise, just surf the web randomly
  • Read News
  • If you come across a news story, read it
  • Blog News
  • Blog the link, making sure to link to the blog where you first saw the link (attribution link = pheromone!)
  • Drop News Off
  • Once you're done, turn around to get more links on the same subject
The results are very similar:
  • Bloggers quickly find the most interesting news stories, and work together to cover/analyze them
  • Random scouts luck across interesting news stories even though they far off the beaten path
  • Bloggers tend to focus on the most interesting news story, covering them until there are no more angles or insights left
There's one big difference between ants and bloggers (well, besides being self-aware). In the ant simulation, there were no new food sources. But in the blogosphere, content sites (and increasingly, weblogs) are constantly providing fresh articles to consume. It's this constant source of food which replenishes the blogosphere and supports so much blogging. - Source.
Another major difference would be, since the blogger brain is much larger than the ant brain, the blogger does probably feel pain with much greater intensity.

Posted by Susan R at February 8, 2005 04:23 PM