I enjoy the dabbling that I do with my little blog.  But, whenever the topic of blogging comes up at work or in a social situation, I have a bit of an awkward feeling.  It’s not that I’m ashamed of blogging, far from it in fact.  But I realize just how great some blogs (and bloggers) are, and how much time, talent and effort it takes to create a truly engaging and influential blog.  These are not easy attributes to achieve, especially given the sheer volume of topics and participants in the blogosphere.

But today I discovered how easy it has become to start looking for great blogs authored by ‘thought leaders’, influencers and witty people across the globe.

PostRank, a wonderfully creative company based in Waterloo, Ontario has posted their “Top Blogs of 2009“.  I don’t know about you, but I found it very difficult to find great blog content.  Doing a Google search doesn’t get you very far.  I primarily used recommendations from people I trust.  But I was sure I was missing out on a lot of insightful writing.

So now, thanks to PostRank, I no longer waste time hunting, I use my precious time much more productively by seeking out “the best” in any subject that interests me.

The more I learned about the Kung Fu behind the PostRank approach, the more impressed I became, and the more confidence I had that this was based on real science and large volumes of user data.

PostRank has identified 3 awards for blogs in each of the almost 500 blog topics:

Engagement is a measure of the amount of intention or interest a specific blog attracts.  I think of it simply as analogous to a Twitter user who is frequently Re-Tweeted. PostRank extends this concept quite broadly and tracks billions of “Engagement Events” by analyzing 19 different social networks for users taking actions on blog posts.

Influence is measured by determining the average number of Engagement Events per post for a blog, and the Movers & Shakers are those blogs who have achieved a huge growth in attention.  If you’re a consistently referenced blogger, your Influence will be high.

It’s fun to see what comes up for topics you enter at http://www.postrank.com.  You can also surf around the topics alphabetically.  After a few minutes, I’d found some interesting new blogs.  Here’s some of the wonderful nuggets I found:

The “Best Bacon Blog” is Mr Baconpants. Yes, that’s right.  There are several bacon-oriented blogs, and the current leader in this very tasty category is Mr. BaconPants.  But you should be aware that this is a tightly contested battle, and current 2nd place blog BaconGeek was the #1 bacon blog on the planet last week. I’m getting hungry.

After checking that my tinfoil hat was affixed firmly to my head, I checked out the “Conspiracy Theory” topic.  To my surprise, the winner was InfoWars and surprisingly not FoxNews.  That brings up a question.  Should I look for the best Glenn Beck blog under “Nut Job”, “Weasel” or “Tea-bagger”?

Despite my best intentions, I cannot help myself when it comes to Geek and Gadget sites.  I was certainly familiar with the Gadget site winner: Engadget.  But the Top Geek blog was a new one to me, and one I’m going to spend some time reading.  It’s called io9.  I just saw a post there titled “Engineering the Perfect Racecar – At Nano Scale“.  Win! Thank you, PostRank!

There’s also a lot you can learn from PostRank about how engaging a blog has been over time, as well as where the reader engagement is coming from.  Clearly, Twitter is a very powerful means to tell the online world that you think something is interesting.  Here’s a screenshot of the analytics for one of my favourite destinations, Slashdot.

Blogs can be a wonderful source of opinion, advice, know-how and humor.  But the good ones used to be hard to find.  The smart folks at PostRank have found a way to leverage our collective actions to magically help each other recommend great blogs.  I think this is significant.  The Internet is getting constantly bigger, and the good sites are getting harder to find.

The only problem I now have is that I’m now faced with proof that my little blog isn’t influential or engaging.  I guess I better work on that!