The conversation migration aggregation sensation jubilation
Recently, I’ve been trending toward using Techmeme, a content aggregator and “meme tracker,” and Twitter, a communications aggregator and “people knowledge tracker” of sorts, as a way to bring news and information that’s relevant and valuable to me. Fred Wilson of A VC seems to be of a similar mind but theorizes that the “average audience member” may still be more focused on single content publications rather than these kinds of platforms.
In other words, it’s a question of content aggregation versus visiting a single publication as a place to consume news and information.
As evidence, Fred uses a Compete chart that shows a spike in TechCrunch’s traffic while Techmeme’s growth has been relatively more modest:
Wilson goes on to state:
I have moved away from reading individual blogs. I want to read aggregation services like techmeme, hacker news, reddit, twitter, delicious popular, digg, etc, etc. I find that they give me a much better view of the top stories of the day than reading individual blogs does.
But once again, what I do doesn’t map very well to what the average audience member does. I think I need to remind myself of that fact on a daily basis.
I agree with Fred, but I might take a slightly different conclusion. I personally find following the massive volume of posts that TechCrunch and Mashable publish to be difficult. Further, the stream of product announcements, rumors, and tech business news can be exhausting to sift through.
I wonder if the massive growth of Twitter and relative popularity of sites like Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, and StumbleUpon tell us that people are looking for a combination of algorithm-based and influence-tracking sites (Techmeme) and community-powered content aggregation (Twitter, Friendfeed, Digg) as a way to:
* Relay the most important/compelling/interesting/breaking stories in close to real time – Traditional media websites aren’t efficient at telling us what’s going on in technology and the Internet in real time. Blogs and community-powered sites are clearly filling that gap. And I would argue that “intelligent communities” like Twitter are the next step in this evolution.
* Provide analysis/commentary/meaning/value to news – Again, the blogosphere emerged as a means to fulfill a desire to bring credible opinions and commentary to the news of the day within the online medium. Because blogs are now such an essential part of distributing the news itself â€“ and TechCrunch and Mashable are critical pieces in this â€“ content aggregators and content-centric communities (as opposed to social networking communities such as MySpace) are becoming ever more important in aggregating stories, getting them to the right place at the right time, and relaying what communities are saying about them and think about them.
This is all to say that smart content aggregation and community-based content sharing will become an ever more important part of information consumption. I believe that that’s part of the reason why Twitter is seeing amazing growth (as well as more funding, maybe they’ll tack on a business model one of these days!) and why a range of sites, including Techmeme, are popular within the tech-obsessed crowd.
In other other words: maybe Fred Wilson’s “average audience members” aren’t quite there yet, but I bet they will be in time.
And if you’re looking for one ring to rule them allâ€¦ it just might be Friendfeed, a service that aggregates Twitter conversations, blog posts, Google Reader shared stories, comments made via Disqus, social news “diggs,” and a host of other services. As bhc3 writes: “FriendFeed is emerging as the one lifestream platform to rule them all. The ability to see and interact across a range of services is proving addictive. And it may inadvertently disrupt a few other services along the way.”
For a great insider’s view of how one blogger is handling his social media consumption workflow, check out Louis Gray’s piece. It’s a great step-by-step on where things are headed.