Any understanding of new media has to involve redefining authority and influence.
In legacy media, these are relatively firm concepts based on the qualities of the audience (age, income, education) and market surveys on qualities of the content (trustworthiness, loyalty, likeability). In organizational new media it is interesting to see how these qualities are being adopted (age, income, education) as entities decipher the meaning of page views, unique visitors and time spent. There isn't much new imagination being asserted in reconsidering the concepts, which is strange considering there is so much imagination being asserted in reconsidering the way content is delivered.
For my money, a much more interesting area involving these concepts is taking place within personal media in the blogosphere and across social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and here is where there is much work to be done in sorting through the issues.
There are clear indices that can imply influence: the views, uniques and time on your site, the followers and those you follow on Twitter, the degree to which your content is spread socially. There is the softer quality of relevance: how your content ranks in search, on Technorati or other gauges.
(And then there's the age-old show-stopper: Just because you have an audience doesn't mean you're influencing it, and even if you're influencing it, you may not be an authority.)
I am reminded of these issues as a result of a to-and-fro in the last few days by such social media luminaries as Loic Le Meur, Jeff Jarvis, Robert Scoble and Clay Shirky on the need for a filter and ranking of Twitter followers --- and what that ranking might express as one's authority.
A rethinking is necessary that quantifies the value of an idea in this new environment and how it spreads. Given the speed of change in the methods and devices to receive and deliver, we are having trouble developing answers to these questions.
Jarvis like the formula of Message + Spreader/Author. Le Meur seems to like the idea of Message x Audience.
I like the formula of Message + Spreader/Author x Audience. I can be such a fence-sitter.