Really? IMHO, this notion is flawed in absolute terms – the best blogs aren’t purely pointers or linkers. And, great blogs are rich with opinion.
"Best" is in the eyes of the reader. For instance, I tend to migrate towards bloggers crafting opinions and views that I might not get somewhere else. Adam says it well:
The A-listers are viewed by many as pundits or pontificators – but from my perspective these guys are not actually putting forth a whole lot in the way of declarative statements or analysis (at least not through their blogs). In fact I’d say they’re acting more like radio DJ’s (playing attractive mixes of someone else’s original content), rather than artists.
I get most of my news from, well, news sources – and blogs are a key part of that picture. I call them the "pointers" – and I have a folder in my RSS reader named as such that I turn to each morning for news. The kinds of places I go include Steve on the blogosphere, BBC news, O’Reilly – for tech stuff, Engadget (so I’m a geek) – and, many, many more…
There is a rough parallel in the media universe – USA Today might have
a higher circ than say The New Yorker (making it statistically better)
but that doesn’t make it higher quality or "better" in real terms.
Connections, like circ, aren’t enough to qualify "betterness". The very function of USA Today drives traffic.
What brings me back to blogs day after day is the writing and views of the writer (which is why USA Today is still at the bottom of my drive while I have scanned The New Yorker). I look for a little enlightenment, humor and smarts – coupled with great content. And of course, links. These factors draw me back to blogs like Ross Mayfield on social networking technologies; Dan, of course; 43 Folders on getting effective; Lessig – it’s interesting; Om Malik on broadband; Yager on things Mac; James on things tech; Stowe – cause he is brainy; if:book – I just like it; Pause – Jory is a terrific writer … and the other thousand-plus feeds I have in NetNewswire… It isn’t the links that make them successful – although I do enjoy the utility – it is the thinking. Connecting is a feature, not a differentiator.
Until we start to understand the blogosphere more deeply in terms of the intent and function of different blogs we’re not going to be able to define best (and we might not want to anyway). Stack rankings based on traffic and links don’t get at the richness of the blogosphere and the different functions blogs serve.
In fact, many of the A list corporate blogs break all the rules. Schwartz – no trackbacks. Edelman – no links. Fastlane – hardly call it a linkfest with four posts containing a grand total of two links on the site right now.
But I will concede this, there are some great bloggers who are incredible connectors.