Home Meme13 Tries and Fails to Solve the Techmeme Echo-Chamber Problem

Meme13 Tries and Fails to Solve the Techmeme Echo-Chamber Problem

Many people love to check out automated blog meme aggregator


throughout the day for the latest in tech news – but a considerable number of other people consider it a self-promoting echo chamber that poisons the tech blog discussion with “me too” follow-on posts and props up a handful of elite sites. (For the record, I don’t feel that way.)

Today RSS aficionado Rogers Cadenhead announced the launch of a project aimed to solve the echo chamber problem. Called Meme13, we’d like to respectfully submit that the site is fundamentally flawed and we’d like to offer an alternative solution.

What Meme13 Does

Meme13 tracks the newest additions to the Techmeme Leader board, the list of sites most likely to appear as anchor links for discussion in a random sampling of Techmeme’s history. The service then displays the feeds of the 13 most recent additions to the leader board, spliced together on one page.

Cadenhead says he’s been tracking new additions to the leader board for the last 10 weeks and each addition to Meme13 tends to stick around for two weeks before a 13 new additions kicks it off the list of most recent. In other words, Meme13 is introducing one new site on average each day.

I found Meme13 via Steven Hodson.

The Problems With Meme13

In other words, Meme13 introduces you to a new member of the echo-chamber elite every day. How is this a solution to the echo-chamber problem people complain about? By definition the Leader Board is a list of the 100 most discussed tech blogs on the web. If you want to use Techmeme to discover new, trusted sources that are still outside the regular suspects – there are better ways to do it. (See below, for one example.)

Indeed the current Meme13 list is made up of several News.com blogs, a Fortune blog, Problogger, Jeremiah Owyang, Thomas Hawk, etc. Much as those folks are due a lot of respect, saying they are the solution to the echo chamber problem seems silly. It seems entirely counter-intuitive, in fact.

A further problem that some bloggers are liable to object to is that Meme13 displays the full text of their RSS feeds when they are available. While debate rages about such practices, I don’t know why anyone would start up a new project and make a decision like that. It’s probably not too big a deal, but it does seem like peeing in some one’s pool without good reason to do so.

One Better Way to Eliminate the Echo Chamber

As an alternative to what Meme13 is doing, we built the following RSS feed. It delivers links to each new site that gets discussed on Techmeme, but filters out duplicates so that you’ll never see the same site twice and they don’t have to be big stars to make the list.

We used the TechMeme River, Dapper, FeedDigest and FeedBurner to put it together. If you’d like to subscribe here’s the link: Techmeme’s Newest Sources.

Here’s a little bit of what’s in the feed right now, though clearly the feed is busy discovering some big sites for the first time.

Recent Items in

Techmeme’s Newest Sources

Deeper Issues: Lay Off the Little Blogs!

I do want to take this opportunity to call into question the basic assumption that “supporting links” on Techmeme aren’t worth reading. I believe they very much are. For one thing, by listing both commonly linked to coverage of a story and other participants in the discussion, Techmeme lets readers select what kind of perspective they want to read on a topic. Look at this current sliver of the site, for example.

Looking at that post, I know from my familiarity with these sources that if I want to read a quick news hit from a tools-centric perspective, the Download Squad link is where I want to go. (DS isn’t small, they’re at least as big a blog as we are.) If I want to read a more analytical take on the news item, with a particular focus on the context of innovation online in general – I want to read Sarah Perez’s post here on RWW. If I want to read a review by a proud up-and-coming blogger, who’s friends with the circle of up and comers that have rallied around Readburner but who’s also not afraid to call it like she sees it, then I’ll read Corvida’s coverage at SheGeeks. If I want to read something detailed and referencing a number of other bleeding edge RSS related tools that I may or may not have used before – then Louis Gray is the link that I want to follow.

On almost every story on Techmeme you can find unique perspectives in the supporting links. Those people participating in discussions quite often have something important to add and there’s no reason to disparage them for talking about subjects that are clearly of general interest, even if they aren’t the first or most authoritative.

I remember when I first got on Techmeme, it was so exciting! My wonderful friend Barb Dybwad linked to me on AOL’s Social Software Weblog, where I later went to work. When I got on Techmeme, hundreds of people clicked through and visited my little personal blog. It was a big day for me.

Some of today’s up and coming bloggers are tomorrow’s heavy hitting blog journalists, so don’t be a jerk and call their posts on Techmeme worthless.

I you feel the need to get out of the echo chamber, but you do like the fast meme tracking capabilities of Techmeme – give our filtered feed a try. Try reading the supporting links on Techmeme too, though. They may not be on the Leader Board, but they’ve often got a lot to say that’s worth reading.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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