Peter Welsch records some details of Lilia's meeting with BROG yesterday in Notes on Blog Research, including this snippet of conversation.
Susan: does blogrolling indicate conversation?
Lilia: No - that's a sign of high level of relation, not necessarily conversation, though linking in entries does. It's difficult to establish a sense of "conversation" through naming of another blogger without hyperlink.
People have talked about this before. A blogroll is a list of links to other blogs that (usually) are interesting to the owner of the blog. With the spread of aggregators, the value of blogrolls is much less. And some people simply don't want to make theirs public. Lilia says she doesn't want people to know how she categorizes their blogs. My blogroll only lists my "regular reads," and it is generally out of date with my real regular reads. (I have over 200 feeds in my aggregator, but many get the light scan treatment.)
The thing about blogrolls and conversations is that I think the blogroll can at least suggest the neighborhood in which a blogger lives. It would be much more useful to study their reading behavior, but that isn't always going to be possible so their blogroll (or OPML file) can serve as a proxy for the blogs and websites they regularly visit. One would also need to know about forums and newspapers and books the blogger reads. This world in which the person resides informs what they will write about and possibly informs their opinions on those topics. Rather than indicating a conversation, blogrolls indicate a world or worldview. Once a specific conversation starts, it is much better to follow the connections within the conversation itself.