March 19, 2008 |
If you pay any attention at all to the tech blogosphere, you'll notice that there have been several recurrent themes lately. One is the concept of A-listers in any community. While Guy Kawasaki shares the CNET study which feels that information has more of a diamond shape than a pyramid, which information trickling down from the A-listers at the point, Alex Iskold over at ReadWriteWeb notes that the 80-20 rule is in play on Twitter, with 80% of the people reading 20% of the population. In other words, there are still some people everyone is listening to more than others. That was frighteningly obvious on Saturday evening when Roert Scoble ran with the old rumor that Revision3 had been sold to CNET. If it was coming from Scoble, it had to be true, right?
At the same time, people are noticing that Web 2.0 hasn't had the same effect on traditional journalism as you might have expected. While many mainstream news outlets have increased their online presence and added reader comments and contributions, the reality is that the focus of what topics and stories are being covered has narrowed tremendously.
This same trend is noticeable in tech news as well. Whether it's an older aggregator like Techmeme or a newer one like Yahoo Buzz, (our coverage) the same stories from the same sources pop up again and again. It's not unusual to see 20 blogs listed under the same headline on Techmeme.
Mike Arrington references the politics involved in blogging, which may explain some of the issue. The blogs that get the majority of the attention are either established players, or sites that have been taken under the wing of an established player. If you think of Techmeme as homecoming and the “big bloggers” like the popular kids, I suppose that rings true, but it's depressing as a writer to read a post like that and realize that the real reward is based on how well you play the game. In what Henry Blodget refers to as Arrington's rambling manifesto, Arrington claims that even a new blog coming in with a pile of venture capital would be left on the outside unless they, too, learned to play the political game in tech news.
Still not sure how this whole new-journalism success story works in tech? Watch Techmeme over the weekend. With few companies actually generating news, you'll see the tabloid-esque fun of bloggers arguing, name-calling, and generating tons of hits. When Louis Gray claimed that TechCrunch's Duncan Riley was off base in his assessment of FriendFeed (which, by the way, I had agreed with almost a month earlier, before all the “A-listers” decided it was the best thing since sliced bread), Riley's expletive-laced Tweet and associated blog reactions lit up Techmeme for yet another day. Not sure how this shakes out into joining the cool crowd? Most of the bloggers listed in Louis Gray's initial A-lister post saw a bump in readers as well as Twitter followers. In fact, he updated the entry to give a shout-out to all the new readers, as well as add to his list of “elites.” Corvida of SheGeeks noted that her follows on Twitter more than doubled.
This is just one example that makes me wonder exactly what we consider news anymore. I'll never be one of the cool kids. I generally don't tend to write about stories that get headlines on Techmeme, mainly because I'm still looking for and reading about things that interest me. I'm probably in the wrong type of job in that regard, since the key to being a successful and widely read blogger is getting the story that will be popular and getting it first. It's making me miss the old days of a longer news cycle and a wider focus in what's considered news, because I'd much rather read about the 89-year-old in Malaysia using the web for her political campaign than the latest blogger slapfest.