03/22/2012 06:16 pm ET Updated May 22, 2012

Metrics for Attention in Networks

The challenge of mass media, and journalists, with social networks is not getting fans or followers. The most important mission is to expand our editorial relevance in these new environment of cultural consumption and participation.

Journalistic relevance in networks is not guaranteed by the increasing number of followers, of people who say "I like" on a logo or who "follow" a brand. This is necessary but not enough. Most media, big and small, mainstream and up-and-coming, are still competing for that trophy that cannot and will not be translated into results. Let alone into relevance.

The architecture of the network demands a different kind of strategy, less based on the logic of a magnet and infinitely more focused on the nature of distribution. Growing our audience, proving our relevance, is not tantamount to gathering people in a single place, whatever it is a website or a Facebook profile.

The DNA of the relevance of the new order is determined by constant flow and the dynamic of content circulation, and not by the empty statement, doomed to vanish incapable of being capitalized, of a "Like" on a brand.

We used to measure visits, and now we are measuring fans? If this is the future, it is not only "badly distributed," like William Gibson said. It is incomplete and misunderstood. With metrics of the past (simple, centralized, totalized, who answer who wins instead of how it works), the present becomes bland, and relevance, a fantasy that cannot resist the slightest contact with the renewed news ecosystem. The past, at least, was a wrecked magic realism.

As for trustable metrics, we know how editorial contents are consumed and circulate on networks, we don't have to measure real time with categories of the past. We need, at least, a recorded future.

The re-design of relevance is also the re-design of measures we used to understand it.

The new relevance is not displacing the center of sites to networks. It is all about understanding the dynamics of an expansive group. It is not just replying to how many, but how, under which circumstances and why. We need minimum mutation patters.