Clay Shirky recently wrote up some thoughts on algorithmic authority, well worth reading: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/11/a-speculative-post-on-the-idea-of-algorithmic-authority/. When you merge "publishers" and "readers" the People Formerly Known as the Audience are no longer a statistical mass of consumers, but are themselves producers of content with their own authority. This long tail of content production makes the ability to do personalized rankings and authoritativeness far more important. Back when there were three networks, you could rely on hearsay or statistical aggregation of authority to figure out which one had the 'best' news coverage. With a million or a billion, you need something much more fine-grained and low-overhead. Thus "algorithmic authority", though it also depends on user actions -- such as linking to and recommending someone else or their content.