Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rolling blogs and seeking heat

Five days online are enough to persuade me that the nuts, bolts, and deep science of blog production and web page design provide a deep font of knowledge, even for law professors who might be inclined to believe that their chief areas of expertise lie far afield. Herewith a few, quick observations.

First, connectivity means everything in this world of increasing diversity and decreasing time. I owe a great debt to the established bloggers who have directed their readers to Jurisdynamics. Having already thanked my first wave of benefactors, I now turn to a new set of online friends. PrawfsBlawg, Michael Lewyn, and the University of Minnesota's Fritz Feds have all sent readers this way. I am most heartened by referrals from two Minnesota colleagues, Bill McGeveran and Ted-Sampsell Jones, who preside (respectively) over Info/Law and Women's Hoops. That the World Wide Web consists entirely of nodes and links is hardly a novel insight, but five days of experience outweigh a decade of theory. It's something every teacher should keep in mind.

Read the complete post.

Second, and this is arguably more central to Jurisdynamics' core mission, the impatient eye and the mouse-clicking finger drive a great deal of a blog's success. This fascinating study of human factors in web browsing by EyeTrack III, an online news source on multimedia consumer behavior, tackles the old question of whether web pages, including blogs, are better off using headlines only or headlines accompanied by blurbs. Using colorful biometric information such as the "heatmaps" that line the top portion of this post, EyeTrack III reaches these conclusions:
  • Blurbs encourage reading and scrolling on homepages.
  • Blurbs boosted overall reading across the entire page.
  • Average number of clicks per person were identical for headlines-only and headlines + blurbs homepages.
  • People focus primarily on the left third of the text in blurbs.
As Jurisdynamics' content deepens, its design will almost surely incorporate these insights. With appreciation to my fellow bloggers and blog-readers, from fellow law professors to law students and even to the small but intense community that finds its passion in women's basketball, I offer this slight tangent from the world of law.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the formatting tips, Jim! That is a helpful study.

There's a nice piece by Clay Shirky on "power laws" created by linking structures:

sad old billie holiday story--them that's got, get more, while the weak ones fade.

7/19/2006 10:29 AM  

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