Home The Art and Science of Creative Aggregation

The Art and Science of Creative Aggregation

Jay Fienberg wrote a
very interesting post
regarding the future of RSS aggregators and blogs:

“Now (today), it’s so easy to publish blogs that there are tons of them, and the
effort to aggregate them is beginning to again attract editor-like and writer-like
functions, i.e., merely mechanical aggregation of sites is seeming too read-only-passive,
and folks are being attracted to more and more active, creative, interactions.”

He terms this “creative aggregation” and lists Technorati tags, del.icio.us, Flickr,
and Webjay as examples of this. He likens it to music DJ’s, who are “aggregators of
existing recordings” but have also “became creators in their development of playlists”.
This is all part of the Remix Culture we’re currently in the middle of building.

He suggests that the developers of services like Bloglines, Flickr, delicious and
Webjay need to continue to build on their creative aggregation functionality – in order
to stay ahead of their competitors. I understood this better when I read Lucas Gonze’s interpretation:

“…so what he’s developing here is the dividing lines between manually generated
content, content generated by bots reaping the manual content, and insight generated as
bots become refined enough to perform a curatorial role.”

I think a good role model for this type of editorial functionality is Amazon. Ever
since they opened for business in 1995 (10 years ago, seems like an eternity in Web
time!), Amazon has provided interactive functionality on their site and they raise the
bar every year. Although their core task is to aggregate information about their products
– e.g. books – what makes Amazon stand out from its competitors is their ability to
creatively mine that aggregated data and enable users to do all sorts of things with it.
Including, most importantly, contributing to the data (user reviews, etc). Which
of course leads to more content/data to aggregate! That’s an important point – creative
aggregation feeds off itself, by creating ever more data for users to aggregate and

The companies that most excite me in the Web 2.0 era are those that, like Amazon, are
aggregating content and enabling users to do remixes of it and build on it. Letting users
mix and dance to their own tunes, rather than serving up the usual top 40 fare. Flickr
and del.icio.us are the two most obvious examples, but I think PubSub and Feedburner are
two other examples where content is not only aggregated – but enhanced, remixed,
personalized, composed.

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