Tracking a Techmeme meme
I love Techememe. It does a pretty remarkable job of collecting the top and hottest stories going on in tech, Internet, online media, and all the business, cultural, and social issues surrounding those worlds. It uses an algorithm based on links and “influence” to find top stories and lays out those stories and the surrounding conversations in story clusters, which changes in nearly real time throughout the day.
Because of Techmeme’s popularity, it itself is often a source of news. Who is trying to game it, who is too popular, not popular enough, who is writing “bitchmemes” to get some 15 minutes of Techmeme celebrity, and so on.
Just over the weekend, TechCrunch did a study of who the top individual writers have been on Techmeme this year. Michael Arrington, Erick Schonfeld, and Duncan Riley of TechCrunch dominate, taking three of the top five slots alone. Mathew Ingram, who nailed the #9 slot himself, points out that Arrington alone towers above the rest of the field, averaging some two Techmeme headlines per day.
Not surprisingly, the reactions have been swift. Dave Winer, in a post that will no doubt provoke many in the blogosphere, writes a withering rebuke of Techememe, basically accusing founder and owner Gabe Rivera of catering to his friends. Further, he takes the opportunity to blast Rivera for not being more transparent in how Techmeme works and calls out “most” of those who nab Techmeme headlines for not knowing “the first thing about technology” because they are not software programmers.
My only thought about TechCrunch’s dominance of Techmeme is that it’s reflective of its overall popularity in the tech blogosphere. It breaks stories, it’s highly popular, and gets linked to widely by influential sites, so it make perfect sense that it will rank high on Techmeme as well. If that popularity may cause momentum of its own accord, that’s the same with any other form of popular publication or broadcast. Over time, if the quality and value isn’t there, that would surely cause less people to frequent, link to, and write about the site, which would cause the opposite effect.