The Testosterone Meme

After checking out the tech.memeorandum.com web site for a few weeks now I’ve made several observations:

First, most of the stories covered are about business, rather than technology. The companies in focus may be technical, but the stories are about commerce.

Second, if you’re a woman writing about technology, don’t expect to show up in the site; when you do, expect to see your weblog disappear from view quickly. This site is for the big boys only.

Third, quiet uses of technology, such as discussions of .NET, digital identity, and others do not show in the list. If you want to appear, link an A-lister who is talking about Web 2.o or search (i.e. Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft). Actual discussions about technology fly under this ‘technology’ aggregator.

Fourth, rank matters more than content. Recently Danny Ayers started a conversation about what other options do we see for a semantic web. He got several responses — not an avalance, but respectable. However, Danny’s post and the cross-blog discussion didn’t show on tech.memeorandum.com. What did show was a post by David Weinberger saying how he hadn’t posted in four days.

Conclusion: if this site represents the new Web 2.0 technologies that filter content to eliminate noise, then thee and me are nothing but static, baby.

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92 Responses to The Testosterone Meme

  1. Dori says:

    Oddly enough, even sharing a blog with a woman appear to keep you from counting. I’ve been writing about tech for eight years or so, while Tom’s been doing it for eighteen — but our joint blog (six years old next week) hasn’t yet made it onto memeorandum.

  2. In a way, I’m finding it useful: I can scan it and see that large swaths of weblogs I only partly follow are talking about things I’m not interested in, without even needing to look first-hand.

    Oh, that’s not its goal? Oops.

  3. Charles says:

    That’s it, Phil. Buzz=noise. The stuff all the A-Listers are buzzing about is noise, not signal.

  4. Let Hercules himself do what he may, the cat will mew and dog will have its day.

  5. Karl says:

    Richelle, my wife, asked me recently how I kept up with so much news. I showed her FeedDemon and Memeorandum. Then I explained the process. So she goes… “so you read what everyone else is reading and comment on that? and that’s what everyone else is doing? sounds stupid to me.” And I kinda stumbled… I err.. “I try not to write what they’re writing about – really!”.. but the fact is – she caught me red handed.

    Edit… I tried to say something interesting following that… but I think that says it all.

  6. memeorandum is a way to keep up on what A-list technology bloggers are talking about. The problems you point out fall out of that; (a) most of them are male and (b) most of them aren’t technologists but instead pundits.

  7. Gabe says:

    Hey everyone: sorry if you don’t like it, including the people who said they use it but still don’t like it. :) It’s not for everyone. I want to suggest something: write out your criticisms, but replacing “memeorandum” with any other tech news site or metablog, automated or not. Do the criticisms somehow vanish or still hold up?

    Shelley: very sporting of you to read “nothing but static” for “a few weeks”. I’m relieved that you’ve posted finally, releasing yourself from all the self-imposed torment! :)

    Dori: were you being flippant or do you really think the process works as you described? Also, could you point out anything on your current blog front page that you feel should show up on the site?

  8. “Do the criticisms somehow vanish or still hold up?”

    It’s almost a mathematical proposition, call it the Central Pundit Theorem: All sites which do data-mining of popularity tend to convergence to a small pundit subset.

  9. Gabe says:

    Seth: forget data mining, I was asking something broader. Consider, say, ZDNet. Do the criticisms hold up?

    If yes, why are you picking only on memeorandum? If no, well, have another look. :)

  10. dave rogers says:

    “why are you picking only on memeorandum?”

    Are you feeling picked on?

    I think the criticism is a response to the contrast between the reality and the hyperbole. Scoble hyped the product for weeks on his weblog as yet another thing that had totally changed the world for him. He may not have used those specific words, but the sense is the same.

    When it appears, alas, it’s merely the same old stuff packaged in a new, easy to open container.

    So yes, the same criticisms apply to ZDNet and the Technorati Top 100, etc., etc., etc.

  11. Gabe, I would say that, very broadly, ZDNet approaches the same result from “the other side” – it picks pundits which are known to popular, to be sources, while data-mining programs infer sources from picks. But the insight is that the result is the same set, WHETHER OR NOT it’s constructed top-down vs bottom-up.

  12. Gabe says:

    Sorry Dave. This would be a “response” to the “hyperbole” if the “hyperbole” included promises that coverage would be more gender balanced and more semantic web-heavy than the mainstream tech press. Nobody, certainly not Scoble, claimed anything like that. What Scoble DID claim I heard repeated among the people I met at tagcamp today, many of whom said it’s changed the web for them, that they check it throughout the day.

    I should add that criticisms, especially actionable ones, are great. But “same old stuff” and “nothing but static” look like conversation stoppers to me.

  13. Actually, in a sense, it’s pretty clever – another way of stroking the A-list (whether or not the world needs another way of stroking the A-list is outside the scope of that observation).

  14. TechCrunch says:

    Shelley,

    The problem with at least one of your arguments (no. 2) is that I found your post on memeorandum. It’s been a headline all night.

    Mike

  15. Scott says:

    Gabe, I’ve mentioned this before over at Scobles site. As long as you have a whitelist, the system will always have a lot of bias. The whitelist, apparently, just includes a list of people that you consider to be the “A list”.

    I’m sure it has changed Scobles life. Someones “life” is always “changed” when they see their name posted bigger and bolder than other peoples, in fact displayed in a dominating fashion over the top of others.

    Digg and Slashdot still kick Memorandums butt. Why? User submitted content and User story promotion. Even if Slashdot is slowing down in it’s old age. i’ve subscribed to both the Digg feed and the Memorandum feed for about 3 weeks now. I end up being more interested in the stories on Digg. Notice the key word in the butt kicking, “User”. If there is one thing I take away and keep as my own from the web 2.0 meme, it’s that the new web is for the USERS. To hell with the devs and to hell with the pundit A listers. They’re just parrots anyway. Until we do away with technologies like Technorati and Memorandum that give power to the A listers, we’ll always be stuck watching them link to our content and take credit for pointing to it.

  16. Scott says:

    So that I’m not just throwing our destructive criticism. One feature I’d like to see added to memorandum would be user feedback and promotion. Too often in the thread of a discussion, a post by Dave Winer or Scoble will be in the top position while the post they are linking to and discussing will be lower in the thread. Which makes their comment seem more important than the thing they were linking to! That’s like saying the review of the movie is more important than the movie itself. Allowing us to annotate the threads and promote the links would probably balance out some of the bias inherent in the whitelist.

  17. Norm Schwartz says:

    Maybe this article obsolete itself in an odd recursive way. I found it through Memeorandum [!!!]. Even though of course it’s not about technology, it’s about politics, testosterone, grousing about not getting enough attention. Now you’ve got our attention. How do you wish to use it?

  18. Ivan Pope says:

    While I find Memeorandum addictive, I have serious issues with it (as others have mentioned):
    1. It is in no way transparent – what the sources are, how they get added, etc, is not shown
    2. There is no user input
    3. There is no way to steer towards my own interests
    4. It is so damn American!
    If it’s going to have legs, it is going to have to add some form of interaction and customisation – or it will die.

  19. Gabe says:

    Scott, there’s no fixed white list, and “A-list” exclusivity is simply untrue. I guess you’re not really watching my site that closely, which is fine, but please resist the urge to manufacture facts. More info on source picking is here: http://blog.memeorandum.com/050922/whos-included

    Regarding bias: all news sites are biased, just differently.

    Most memeorandum readers I talk to see little value in digg and slashdot. If the reverse is true, well, that’s OK, and I’m really happy with my readers. We can all coexist.

  20. Sounds to me like people are just p*ssed at not being considered important enough to feature on the site. Get over yourselves.

  21. Geoff Jones says:

    Thats weird I found this article on memeorandum.

  22. dave rogers says:

    Gabe, from your “who’s included” page:

    “If you’re a publisher and want to be included, the best thing you can do is engage other writers in your topic area. Write things in response to what they write, or things that just interest them. And having done this, ask your peers for links. Provided you’ve written something of interest, there should be no dishonor in doing so!”

    Want to run that one by me again?

    Basically, I read this to mean, “Kiss the asses of the high-attention earners so they’ll point to your stuff, and my almighty algorithm will detect your link in their stuff and you’ll be included! (Provided you’ve written something of interest.)”

    (Professional driver. Closed course. Do not attempt. To write anything of interest.) Remember: The “best thing you can do” is not write something interesting. It’s kiss ass. It’s not what you know, it’s who you… When the A-List embraces you in their “small circle of trust” you’re golden!

    Huzzah! Yet another, “How to appeal to the Technorati 100! (Now with enriched algorithms!)”

    Honestly, it sounds just like Technorati, only they like to hang their earnest authenticity on “authority,” while you seem to like “algorithm.” Is it because “A” is at the front of the alphabet? Are rationalization and justification words ranked hierarchically by their ordinal value in the alphabet? Wouldn’t surprise me. (Rhetorical question.)

    Relax Gabe. It’s all part of the “conversation.” Those that has, gets. The rest of us are just happy to be part of the “long tail,” the great consolation prize in the universe of Truth or Consequences.

    As for finding this thread in Memeorandum, attention is attention, even when it’s negative. (Or even just less than fawning praise.)

  23. Karl says:

    There are some great points in this thread that I hope you take to heart Gabe. Or a competitor – sooner or later – will.

    I see value in digg, slashdot, and memeorandum. It comes down to what community they surface and how.

    The politics page on memeorandum is particularly great because I can scan, at a glance, conversations on both sides of the political spectrum. It works well. Maybe because the participants in that community aren’t neccessarily those that are creating the news they are talking about.

    We’ve discussed this before Gabe – the only real criticism I have of memeorandum is that I would like to see versions of these pages seeded with different sets of blogs – chosen by me – chosen by anyone.

    These new pages might not be that useful at first – because folks might not be linking to one another in a topic space – but the existence of such pages encourage – like you did just now – folks to participate with each other. Believe me – I see this with the manual service I help provide. I just know an automated tool would help terrifically.

    Dave nails it when he says that in order to get seen now you must “Kiss the asses of the high-attention earners so they’ll point to your stuff, and my almighty algorithm will detect your link in their stuff and you’ll be included! (Provided you’ve written something of interest.)”

    But not if what I am asking for comes to pass. Then it would only be the pages that currently exist. Not the new ones that attempt to expose other communities.

    As for my criticism above – well my blogging habits got influenced by Memeorandum! I’m trying to correct that. It’s like chasing your tail.

  24. Jim Mathies says:

    These are good points, but I think you might be missing the usefulness of memorandum. I’ve been using it now for over a month, and couldn’t live without it. Your right when you say that a great deal of low level signal does not show up there. But that’s ok because memorandum isn’t a comprehensive aggregator, like the desktop aggregator I use for tracking all the blogs I read. It’s more of a page one service, and I think it’s perfect at that. When Miers withdraws, when Google releases Base, when Libby is indicted, I know it, and I have links to the best articles and posts related. Since I don’t have 3 hours every work day to go through every web log track, memorandum keeps me filled in on the top stories, what’s going on that’s big. I will read that Ayers post, but I’ll read it on a Sunday over coffee, when I have the time to go through every blog I track.

    Regards,
    Jim

  25. Bob Dionne says:

    This is interesting, I recently listened to an IT conversation about similar gender issues. I’m new to blogging and social software and I’m interested in the graphs that arise in these social settings. Graph theory tells us we can have lots of arcs between nodes without a whole lot of connectivity so it doesn’t surprise me that things like “testosterone memes” arise. With more women blogging would we also see “estrogen memes”? Within a large networks small subgraphs can have undue amounts of power. Of course in some settings this is important for purposes of setting the tone and style. In any event I’m interested in these social networks and the natural graphs that arise. Any relevant pointers would be welcome.

    I came here from http://www.reddit.com where a more or less democratic approach determines what’s relevant and one builds karma points by posting items that accumulate lots of votes. So far it seems to work.

    I’m not sure how some of these others work. I’ve had posts commented on by blogs that are popular yet it hasn’t shown up in Technorati for example. I suppose it’s because I’m new at it and very far out on the “long tail”.

    I’ve seen some pretty lame social software algorithms, for example one where “trust” links were ordered by shortest distance form the source, seemingly oblivious to the old adage about keeping friends close and enemies closer.

    As an aside having a spell checker in line is cool. I wish more sites supported that.

    Anyway, good post, the thing that caught my eye was the link to Danny Ayer about the semantic web, I’ll move on :)

  26. Scott says:

    Gabe,

    I’m not manufacturing facts. I may be misunderstanding your algorithm or misinterpreting your words though. But this statement leads me to believe that you are scanning certain people and looking for what they link to.

    “The source-picking algorithm is based on this philosophy and works roughly as follows: I feed it a number of sites representative of the topic area I want coverage.”

    You are feeding it a list of hand-picked sites to scan and finding the links based on those sites. You have selected sites that you consider to be more imporatnt than others because they have links relevant to the area you want to focus on. That’s why I’m calling it a whitelist. If you didn’t have a list of selected sites, would the allgorithm still work? Say, if you pointed it to several MSN search RSS feeds containing terms relevant to your topic? How do you get includes in the list of selected feeds?

    Of course the memorandum users don’t like /.or Digg, they don’t get posted in big, bold letters at Digg. I have yet to see a Robert Scoble or a insert-other-marketing-business-type-person link at Digg.com.

  27. Gabe says:

    Dave, Karl, the idea that A-list intervention is required to appear on the site is simply false. This is easy to verify. Ironically, even this post appeared on the site without A-list intervention, humorously challenging some of Shelley’s points.

    Scott, talk of “white-list” implies sources appear on the site only if I approve them. This isn’t the case: many posts come from sources the software has added automatically.

  28. Karl says:

    Gabe, can you answer Shelley’s point that “Recently Danny Ayers started a conversation about what other options do we see for a semantic web. He got several responses — not an avalance, but respectable. However, Danny’s post and the cross-blog discussion didn’t show on tech.memeorandum.com.”

    Shelley may not be an A-lister – but she’s way up there in terms of who reads her and links to her.

  29. Kathy Sierra says:

    I’m sure I’m being horribly naive here, but… do we even *care* if tech.memeorandum is really the all-male/all-A-List/all-the-time thing that some folks here have found it to be? (Very minor data point — I’m neither an A-lister or male, and I’ve showed up there a few times. It resulted in so few referral links I nearly missed it.)

    While I understand why giving feedback to Gabe might be useful (especially things like Scott is suggesting), I still don’t see why this is such a Big Deal. Who *cares* if Scoble raves about it? People will either find it useful or not, and Gabe will either work on improving it (if he believes it needs improvements) or not.

    I’m very curious about why this is worth so much negative comment (again, with the exception of the constructive suggestions for making it better).

  30. Gabe says:

    Karl, yeah, it’s really easy actually. tech.memeorandum shows less than 40 items at all times, so if 140 worthy posts are out there, then 100 won’t make the cut. (When Shelley points out a really worthless item that did make the cut, she’s right that it’s lame that it appeared. The technology isn’t perfect, and I hope to improve it over time.)

    Kathy: good question. Wonder how forthright the answers, if any, will be.

  31. Scott, I’ve been on Digg several times and have linked to Digg several times. I like it too, but it is quite different. I like watching and using Delicious too. But, Memeorandum brings me a TON more stuff that I’m interested in every morning. That’s why it changed my life.

    Funny enough, I found this article on Memeorandum too, and it, too, is very interesting.

  32. Gabe, many of the people in this thread have (elsewhere) written at length about why they think it matters – which, in a way, given that you ask it, answers your question! Unlike A-list’ers, those ideas are NOT propagated endlessly by a tail-eating echoing system.

    Y’know, in some ways, there’s aspects of blog culture which are worse than a cult. At least in a cult, there’s usually the idea that if you labor devotedly in stoic service, you’ll be rewarded in the next life. But the cliched question, which I’ll parody as “Why are you discontented, little Z-lister, why do you desire anything beyond the sheer joy of doing it?”, ranks below even an empty promise of heaven.

  33. Scott says:

    Robert,

    Yeah the content on Digg is very different. Digg tends to be more tech/culture oriented. Where Memorandum seems more business oriented. Different focus.

    Gabe: But you approve the initial sources? The ‘seed’ sources, right? I think that’s where the bias creeps in. You’re right though, a whitelist implies that you filter the content. Which you don’t.

  34. Scott: of course Memeorandum has bias. All I see is tons of Google stuff up there. :-)

    The PDC, for instance, had 1,000 bloggers at it writing a TON of content, but barely even got a trickle of flow on Memeorandum.

    I didn’t notice anyone complaining about that. In fact, go back to http://pdcbloggers.net/Feed.aspx and you’ll see all the posts.

    By the way, want to get on Memeorandum? Figure out how to promote your blog better. Here’s some notes that someone took about my talk yesterday on just that topic: http://spaces.msn.com/members/EastsideBusiness/Blog/cns!1pNKheJyXjdG2pH8pTgD7mNA!143.entry

  35. From that article:

    “… think instead about how to get a few key people to read what you are blogging – that’s what will really bring the traffic.”

    Excellent advice! Brilliant! Inspired! Awesome! Emergent! …

    You said it, not me :-(

  36. Charles says:

    I keep hearing this buzzing in my ears, I can’t quite make out the words, but it sounds vaguely like someone repeating the same phrase over and over again: incestuous amplification.

  37. Dori says:

    I said, Oddly enough, even sharing a blog with a woman appear to keep you from counting. I’ve been writing about tech for eight years or so, while Tom’s been doing it for eighteen — but our joint blog (six years old next week) hasn’t yet made it onto memeorandum.

    Gabe replied, were you being flippant or do you really think the process works as you described?

    Gabe, all I can say is that I have no idea how your site works, and Shelley’s hypothesis appears to be as good as any.

    Also, could you point out anything on your current blog front page that you feel should show up on the site?

    I’m happy to! The list got somewhat lengthy, so I posted it over on my blog.

  38. Kathy Sierra says:

    Seth — I apologize, but I’m still not completely “getting it”, and I want to, because given the tone (and amount) of response here, it’s clearly something that is touching nerves. So I’ll ask a slightly different and more focused question…

    I have a blog, and I’m not an A-lister (or male). However, I *am* interested in having readers, sure. But I’m still wondering why I should care one way or the other whether I’m linked to on tech.memeorandom? Or… why I should care if tech.memeorandom is a “tail eating echoing system” or not? Who is harmed one way or the other? Am I giving people too much credit by assuming that readers (let’s say, who were persuaded to check it out by Scoble) will decide for themselves if the site is telling them anything worthwhile? Sure, we *should* all be “exposed” to a lot of different things — but with 70,000 new blogs starting *each day*, there have to be filters somewhere, and obviously there is a subset of people for whom any given set of filters are–whether we agree with it or not–what they want. Isn’t this (Shelley’s blog) in some ways a kind of filter? She posts things — different from tech.memeorandom — that *her* readers might be interested in.

    I do not understand how what goes on there effects me, my readers, or MOST especially — given your z-lister comment — my ability to find/connect with readers? I’m *not* doing this “just for the sheer joy”, but I still don’t understand what tech.memeorandom has to do with it.

    Let’s say that I *never* have another link from them… why should that bother me? It certainly isn’t going to hurt my ability to have readers.

    Sometimes it appears that people are complaining because the A-listers aren’t linking to them even though they (the not-A-lister) is talking about the *same* topics… but then other times it appears that the complaint is just the opposite — that they should not HAVE to talk about the same things, and that their discussions should be considered “just as important.” None of this makes sense to me. Just as important to whom?

    Blog readers have complete control over what they choose to subscribe to and/or visit, and blog posters have complete control over what they choose to tell *their* readers about. Content that *readers* find useful seems to find its way out there, eventually, with or without the A-listers. And no, in this case I’m not being naive.

  39. Mike Sanders says:

    Kathy – let me start by saying that I think you are putting out great stuff which I’m really enjoying.

    Perhaps the reason you’re not getting it, is that this is really a discussion about the hierarchy in blogging. In theory blogging flattens the hierarchy and gives the little people a voice, or at least that is what A-List bloggers tell us – just write good stuff and you can move up the hierarchy.

    But the reality is that there is a blogging hierarchy with its gatekeepers and it is often difficult moving up or being heard, especially if you don’t tow the Cluetrain/Technorati/Blogging-is-Great party line.

    You seem to be moving up the hierarchy and therefore might not be feeling the effects of the gatekeeping process.

    Memeorandum, in the eyes of some, is another tool, like the Technorati 100, that is solidifying the hierarchy and this is troublesome to people who had hopes of blogging producing more of a hieararchy-flattening world – thus the hostility.

  40. Mack D. Male says:

    Could not agree more! Great post!

  41. Scott says:

    “The PDC, for instance, had 1,000 bloggers at it writing a TON of content, but barely even got a trickle of flow on Memeorandum.

    I didn’t notice anyone complaining about that. ”

    Actually Robert, I did notice it. I wondered why more PDC news didn’t end up on there. I speculated as to the cause.

    http://www.lazycoder.com/weblog/index.php/archives/2005/09/18/memorandum-didnt-pick-up-on-much-of-the-pdc/

  42. Gabe says:

    Mike, Most of us have been here before. This is where “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality” comes up, and then someone states that the ideal you have in mind is a fantasy.

    So I’ll just make one point about A-listers and little guys. Right now my site is featuring stuff by “KDE Dot News”, William Grosso, Eric Mack, plus two Pittsburgh based reporters who probably aren’t too widely read. So I think if people replace mainstream media reading with tech.memeorandum, “the hierarchy”, rather than solidifying, will even erode a little bit.

    BTW, “Technorati is great” party line? Say what? Is it 2003 again? :)

  43. Scott: the thing is, of the blogs that I read, very few linked to PDC stuff. Which tells me that they are either actively avoiding talking about Microsoft or they just didn’t know about the PDC blogs. Either way, the bias in Memeorandum IS there — it demonstrates the bias we all have as a group.

    Another way the bias is showing up? I get hundreds of emails every day. Most of which are from men. So, that biases my writings.

  44. Mike Sanders says:

    Gabe – I think I said Blogging-Is-Great and that is still the war cry. If you say something negative about blogging, like the Forbes article, you get creamed.

    I think Shirky’s article was good, but it certainly was not the last word on the subject. If you haven’t been reading Dave Rogers these past few months, then you probably are not as informed about hierarchies as you might want to be.

    The promise of blogging is that the little guy can be heard and that is still the convential wisdom spouted by the A-Listers covered on Memorandum. But the hierarchy has solidified and the little guy is just a speck on the collective long tail, which is why there is some discontent.

    There will always be hierarchies and even if Memorandum does solidify them, you have committed no crime. But if you’re going to try to feed us the “I’m helping the little guy” meme, you’ll probably meet some opposition in these parts at this point.

  45. After reading Shelley’s article and briefly scanning the comments, I’d say that TechMeme is a success, or there wouldn’t be this level of feedback. So Gabe is doing something right.

    As for the bias against women, TechMeme has featured many of my postings (I saw at least three today), and I am definitely a woman. Moreover, it was TechMeme that first drew me to Charlene Li’s blog, another definite woman.

    The beauty of the web is that we do have all these resources –TechMeme, Digg, Bloglines and too many others to count. I don’t rely on just one method of keeping my finger on the pulse of the blogosphere, just as I don’t rely on one newspaper or one web site to get my journalistic fixes.

  46. Kathy, as others have mentioned, it’s about oligarchy, inequality, hierarchy, cronyism, and the concomitant implications. Why do people care? Because to many down nearer the bottom of the curve than the top, it’s clear that there *is* a curve, and often the reach of one’s voice has a lot to do with “who you know, not what you know”.

    Pre-emptively, I have to stop and note there are about half-a-dozen strawman replies possible.

    I DID NOT SAY – everyone who claims to be discriminated-against is correct
    I DID NOT SAY – “who you know” is the one and only factor which matters
    I DID NOT SAY – everybody wants to be at the top of the curve
    I DID NOT SAY – those at the top are “undeserving”
    I DID NOT SAY – being at the bottom is somehow dishonorable

    I SAID : often the reach of one’s voice has a lot to do with “who you know, not what you know”.

    And many at the top are loath to admit that proposition, because then blogging is very much like every other old-boys-network. In fact, overall, rather unattractive given some of the personalities involved in many of the hierarchies (e.g. it’s one thing to put up with an overgrown child’s temper tantrums as part of a six-figure salary job, quite another if all you’ll get out of the deal is a few attention links).

    When this is discussed, as any other wealth imbalance, a ready reply is for the rich to abusively blame the poor for poverty. The poor are then said to have a bad attitude, deficient work-ethic, etc. For example, an A-lister may sneer at a low-ranked blogger for not posting enough “interesting” material. Which then leads to the Z-listers noting in amusement how many A-lister posts are about where they are in terms of airports, who they met for lunch, or whether they’re posting or not (see above, “What did show was a post by David Weinberger saying how he hadn’t posted in four days”)

    So, when yet other popularity data-mining tool appears on the scene, it’s analyzed according to these issues – often leading to the result: “More voice for the voicefull!”

    To directly address:

    “Sometimes it appears that people are complaining because the A-listers aren’t linking to them even though they (the not-A-lister) is talking about the *same* topics’ but then other times it appears that the complaint is just the opposite ‘ that they should not HAVE to talk about the same things, and that their discussions should be considered “just as important.” None of this makes sense to me. Just as important to whom’”

    Very simple. Consider: “Sometimes people are complaining because the crony club links only to other cronies in discussing a topic, but then other times there’s a complaint that the crony club determines what’s an important topic in the first place”. That’s not in conflict!

  47. Kathy Sierra says:

    Mike, thanks VERY much for the comment. I have to think about this some more. I’m thinking ignorance has been bliss for me, because I haven’t even *thought* about the “hierarchy” before this discussion started.

    But as someone relatively new to all of this, I’m finding a lot of the “anti-hierarchy” discussions here and elsewhere to be JUST as “tail-eating echoish” as the A-lister discussions. The same people always linking to the same people, reinforcing the same messages, sneering and ridiculing the same people or ideas in the same way, with their own talking-points-that-become-true-since-they-are-repeated-so-often-without-question, and anyone who doesn’t agree…

    The “anti-hierarchy” crowd sure looks like a hierarchy of its own. It’s simply a *different* party line–in this case, the “if you aren’t a white male A-lister you’re screwed” line. Complete with “you don’t belong here” and “if you don’t agree with us it is because you are an idiot” cliques.

    Really, from a until-recently-an-outsider perspective, I have trouble seeing how some of the folks here aren’t doing the same thing. The *only* difference is that they have a somewhat smaller audience. But geez, Shelley is a “top 500 blogger” — and y’all are acting as though nobody pays attention to her? Look how many comments are here!

    I had no idea 10 months ago that blogging would be so much like high school ; )

  48. Karl says:

    High school never ends :) I was going to bring into the discusion Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality but Gabe beat me to it.

    I agree with Mike Kathy – you are raising great questions – and for most folks blogging – none of this rarely matters.

    It matters if you have something you feel important to share – and need to get it out to a wide audience that reads blogs. I like tools like Technorati’s because they inform me who has the capability influence the discussion – and yes these folks certainly do. Information like that is typically hidden from view. Technorati shows me who the “few key people” are I need to reach that Robert mentions in that post. That bad part about it is that tools like Technorati tend to help reinforce it as well (see the Shirky piece and more here, at Seth’s, and at Dave’s).

    I’ve said I like Memeorandum too – but realize at this point it is not the end-all be-all that some are making it out to be – and want to see it evolve into a tool that surfaces important discussions that normally get missed. I think it has that capability. The politics page does it in a sense. It’s amazing actually. If you’re a liberal blogger – you’re catching what conservatives are talking about – and vice versa. The tech page seems far less successful at this to me – and I guess I’m not alone. Today is a bit different because it is a weekend and linking patterns are different right now. Watch Monday by noon. I like Memeorandum so much I want a Philadelphia Memeorandum. And a New York. And a Java Memeorandum. And a Karl’s Memeorandum. And so forth. As it stands right now – the tech page seems dominated by a group of folks I already know about – including myself.

  49. dave rogers says:

    “High school is really just an intense, concentrated version of “real life.” There’s just less chance to hide and little chance to escape. The blogosphere is more like high school than not, because it is just another product of human nature. The concentrated aspect of it, at least in the early years, was because we were from a self-selected group and we paid intense attention to one another. This created the initial hierarchies, which appear, to me, to have remained somewhat stable over the last several years. One virtue of high school is that it usually only lasts four years. Not so the blogosphere. ”

    Groundhog Day, 13 December 2004

    Been this way a long time. Long before I wrote that little bit of crap anyway.

    Memeorandum is a product. It will succeed or fail in the marketplace. We like to believe that all products succeed on their merits. But there are other factors besides “merit,” and many of them are more important, in the long run, than technical merit. Since it’s difficult to compare the technical merits of particular aggregators, unlike the performance specifications of automobiles, for example, people who offer products like Memeorandum must rely on “buzz.” They must offer something that has appeal for high attention-earners, so they can count on their attention-directing authority to direct more potential customers to their product or service.

    Much of the activity in the “blogosphere” is this currying of favor with the high-attention earners. Scoble got advance use of this product because he’s a high attention-earner. I’m sure this is nothing new in business, it’s just that the internet has made all this mutual ass-kissing much more “transparent.”

    So Shelley laments the latest object of so much favorable attention because it doesn’t meet her expectations of what a superior product would offer, and of course she’s put down, diminished and dismissed because the product fails in the same way all the existing products fail. Her objections, observations and criticisms are deemed not “actionable” enough. How’s that for stopping the “conversation?”

    And you’re right Kathy. We do repeat ourselves and link to each other. Maybe you think we should just be quiet, or get with the program and join the chorus singing the praises of all that the anointed deem praiseworthy. Is that what you’re suggesting?

    And it’s not that “nobody” pays attention to Shelley, it’s just that many of the people who probably ought to pay attention to her instead choose to ignore her.