PageRank begets PersonRank

July 21st, 2005

The Washington Post has an article on a popular new web diversion — AIMFight — that lets you compare the popularity of two AIM screenames. It feeds off a combination of the importance of social networking and our urge to compete by framing the issue as a one-to-one comparison between the social networks of two individuals. Your AIMFight score is just the “sum of the current number of people online who have you listed as a buddy, out to three degrees”. The metric is simpler than that used by PageRank in that it doesn’t divide a buddy’s contribution to your rank by the by number of other buddies he has. The idea is clever, though, and admits lots of possibilities to explore better algorithms for ranking individuals in social networks. For example, a natural extention would be to integrate information from many social networking systems — AIM, MSN, FOAF, linkedIn, etc. FOAF could be the glue to help do this.