Techmeme and "Blogging 2.0"

Man I hate the term "blogging 2.0". It’s just that blogging is evolving and we need something to call it. Anyway, the term blogging 2.0 refers to the disaggregated posting and microblogging trend that twitter spawned and friendfeed and others have fueled. When you’ve got something to say, you say it wherever you happen to be at that point in time. It could be a twitter post, it could be a comment on disqus, or a share link on friendfeed. And the conversation ensues. Just like a blog post, except that it happens on one of many services. Sometimes the conversations are aggregated back up to the place they started and sometimes they are not. This is a source of debate, concern, and disagreement for many, but try as hard as we might, and I am for trying hard, we aren’t going to put blogging back in the bottle. The genie is out.

So where does that leave techmeme and the other "blog aggregators"? Their goal is to capture the most interesting conversations happening in the blog world at any one time and present them on a single page. And they are fantastic. Not a day goes by where I don’t visit Techmeme, Hacker News, delicious popular, and several others at least once.

But what if the most intersting conversation is happening on twitter or friendfeed? Then what?

That was the point of my tweet last night:

Q: what will be the first twitter post to get picked up on techmeme and who will post it?

I got a bunch of great responses, which can be seen here, including:

davewiner: @fredwilson — I’ve asked Gabe this question, and he doesn’t scan Twitter, so it doesn’t seem possible.


mikepratt: @fredwilson is one Twitter post ever that important…or is it the context of the conversation that elevates it?


howardlindzon: @fredwilson likely a takeover or deal leak

I think we will see newsworthy posts start in twitter and elsewhere and conversations emanate from them. So it’s time for the aggregators to start paying attention to the twitters and friendfeeds and others who are driving blogging’s evolution.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. hypermark

    It’s seems that the real challenge in capturing tweets is coming up with a reliable syntax so you can separate signal from the noise. Otherwise, it’s just garbage in, garbage out.

    1. fredwilson

      The conversation that results (@replies and comments on friendfeed) are the equivalent of links

  2. gregory

    it will happen when the conversation IS the blog

  3. WayneMulligan

    I wonder if “Step 1” will be to use twitter as another component of the TechMeme algorithm – track which stories are being linked to from twitter (would have to follow tinyURL’s). It would be a tough task but it might give a more real-time idea of what’s going on in the TwitterSphere, and ultimately the blogosphere as well.-Wayne

    1. Andy Denton

      Yeah, the tiny URL’s (and every umpteen variation of tinyurl) will make this almost impossible. i remember listening to a podcast interviewing the tinyurl creator. the host was convinced that tinyurl was the signal generator on the web. if tinyurl was ever able to determine which links were most popular (which they don’t), then this may work.Now if Twirl or Twitteriffic were to acquire TinyURL, and they were to start tracking popular links used within their app, then you would have something.

  4. RacerRick

    I would like to see some sort of service that collects the best twitter comments and/or conversations of the day and stores them somewhere with an RSS feed.It’s too hard to follow a bunch of people and keep checking and re-checking.

  5. mrdave991

    I see a fundamental problem with this. Twitter tends to take on the form of a semi-asychronous IM chat conversation, or the shoutbox widgets that have been around for years. At best, they look like IRC chat logs. If you are a participant in the conversation, this is fine. If you are coming along after the fact and trying to glean information from it, then good luck trying to get anything useful out of it.The fundamental problem is that “chat” is too high a context to be useful to those not participating directly in the conversation. This is also why Michael Arrington makes me want to puke when he goes on and on about twitter and about how “everything happens on twitter”. Okay, so you use twitter to chat with your contacts. I read his blog – take an RSS pull of it to be more precise – to get a low context condensed version so that I don’t have to do all the legwork myself. Combine this with the fact that ”normal” people have almost universally never heard of Twitter.If there was a market for shorting startups, I’d mortgage my house to bet against any company that made aggregating twitter a central part of its strategy.

    1. khylek

      I like what you said “too high a context to be useful to those not participating directly in the conversation.” This is the biggest problem with Twitter right now. It has a moment in the sun right now, but there are two main challenges if it’s going to be a long term part of helping out with conversations:1. The obvious downtime issues2. Threading: Meaning I have to be able to tie various Tweets together and KNOW that they are part of the same conversation.Fred noted in the past that eventually, he thinks, Twitter will be able to do this or some 3rd party will do it for them. I have pretty serious reservations about this. Most of their internal efforts have to go into re-architecting – so to add something that will reliably thread seems unlikely. And since there isn’t really any way to tie Tweets together reliably (as far as I am aware) I don’t see how a 3rd party could do it any better than Quotably (which is not really reliable).Plurk does this much better, although it’s not as useful as Twitter yet. But if they figure out (as noted here before) that it’s more important to have the data (conversations in this case) flowing through them than controlling and maintaining the conversations themselves, then they will have an opportunity to steal Twitter’s moment.

  6. BillSeitz

    Services like TweetScan and Summize should support params for a date range or tweet-id-range so you can see a stream of comments for a period of time. But the lack of “thread” concept for Twitter means that search results will always have even more unrelated junk in them and a blog’s comment stream or a FriendFeed thread…

  7. zachlandes

    Two BIG questions:1. If microblogging could be anything, what would the ideal service look like?2. If aggregators favor one type of content and bloggers another, won’t aggregators have to CHANGE to keep up?The first question is one I try to think about daily…the second stems from this discussion and the first question.

  8. Zach

    Wow. Twitter is great for what it is but I sincerely hope that it never becomes a “news source” so to speak. How inefficient that would be – as displayed above. In order to show any kind of related posts you had to link to a third-party site that handles the organization for Twitter. Even still, I don’t think summize can isolate one topic / line of conversation. The ‘dispense news, absorb news, debate news’ formula is impossible to achieve on Twitter.From the consumer (reader) perspective, aggregators are useful because they lead to top stories where they can consume valuable information and then take part in an organized discussion if they so choose. You can’t obtain valuable information in 140 characters and you can’t participate in an organized conversation if most of the people you’re trying to speak with can’t see your comments.

  9. andyswan

    I see a tweetmeme on the horizon…

  10. Jonathan (@jopkins)

    I think that this may happen if the Tweet is from a company breaking some important news – the Tweet has to come right from the horses mouth. But then again, what about when a tweet from joe public breaks a news event like an earthquake? I guess news like that diffuses into the web very quickly whereas if the tweet itself becomes a quotable source then that’s where it will be multi-linked to and rise high in the new conversation aggregators that are no doubt in development in someone’s bedroom somewhere .

  11. maxkalehoff

    Fred, not surprisingly, the social-media analytics companies (like my former company, BuzzMetrics) are already tapping into Twitter as a content source — for brand insights and intelligence. I bring this up because those companies’ underlying tech platforms and content analysis systems are similar in many ways. Some of the social-media analytics companies even license their technology to third-party publishers to enable Techmeme-like functionality for their specific niches.

    1. MartinEdic

      Agreed. We (Techrigy), for example, offer the data for targeted soc media searches from our measuring tool as RSS and email on a periodic basis (daily, weekly, etc.).

  12. MartinEdic

    We track blogs, microblogs like twitter, forums, social networks, UGC including photo and video sharing and keep adding new services as they start to build user-base. We’re definitely seeing a big uptick in Twitter as a source of business intelligence- as the news is breaking. The tipping point for social media being widely accepted (beyond the early adopters) is taking place right now, IMHO.Perhaps the real indicator of acceptance is that spammers are entering these places very aggressively!

    1. fredwilson

      The good thing about services like twitter and friendfeed is you need an account to “spam” which makes it easier to manage than the web at large (which unfortunately includes blogs)fred

      1. MartinEdic

        Agreed but some of the ‘spam’ is Twitter pitching by real users. This will never end- people are always promoting. Like blog comments, there are right and wrong ways to do it:Don’t pitch, participate.

  13. shareme

    How about the term Conversation Conflagration 2.0?I already see the same pattern I am reading more twitter posts via web interface and FriendFeed and Disqus threads than the usual tech blogs and etc..BTw, good taste in should get the live tapes when he plays with Steve Dahl of Chicago..:)

  14. radjay

    Hi Fred, we launched a few weeks ago, which aims to do just that in the long term. Any feedback is welcome on how we can improve our service.

  15. GabeRivera

    It’s hard for me to see how automated aggregation of tweets could be a net win for Techmeme.As others have said, tweets lack context, unlike blog which are much more self contained.Could tweets be reassembled into something more coherent for Techmeme? Automated processes for doing that are too error prone, at least by the standards Techmeme would demand. And even if they were perfect, the results will still look strange and disjointed. And in any case, blog posts tend to emerge quickly for the most important stories “breaking” on Twitter.Techmeme has definitely benefited from the Twitter ecosystem. For one thing, Twitter serves as a backchannel that prompts people to blog about things they otherwise would have discovered too late or not at all. Of course Techmeme publishes to Twitter too. But aggregation of the tweets themselves is a tough nut to crack.

    1. fredwilson

      RightBut you can permalink to a tweetSo if dozens of high profile blogs did that, then would that tweet be techmeme material and would it be right for that to be the anchor post?That’s really what I am askingNot much more than thatAt least right nowFred

  16. billpetro

    I agree with many of the things that MrDave991 has said. Twitter seems to fall somewhere between blogging and IM. At times, the signal-to-noise ratio of Twitter “chats” is as bad as IRC. At other times, it seems a handy form of “broadcast IMing”. Still other times, it lives up to its name as a quick, immediate “micro-blogging” technology.However, Twitter still has an immature technology ecosystem. Sure, there are aggregators and consolidators like TweetScan and Summize (really, more like filters/sorters) and threading tools like Friendfeed, and even easy GUIs like Hahlo, but it often seems to be “a solution in search of a problem.” Don’t get me wrong, I think Twitter is very cool, the vanity plates of the 21st century, and I’ve blogged about its usefulness several times <http:”” ?s=”twitter”> but I must confess, the Twitter phenomenon is most difficult to explain to my Web 1.0 friends.

  17. Eric Rice

    Amusingly, this is probably Friendfeed’s appeal: that posts are similar to a mini blog (with contextual conversation). If twitter had threading like everyone else (yeah yeah I know, ‘we love it for its simplicity’ /rolleyes) then this probably wouldn’t be an issue. Techmeme tracking Friendfeed or even Pownce, Plurk, Jaiku (lol) makes infinitely more sense.If they relax the 140 character limit, then maybe accessing so many records wouldn’t make sense? It wouldn’t take a zillion tweets to get something out there that’s beyond the headline/soundbyte culture that’s continually being propagated. Didn’t we hate older media for dishing out the headline and now -we’re- doing it?

  18. sull

    Not too long ago, I cleaned up my social web service usage a bit… trimming it down to basically two services. Twitter + Tumblr (and vimeo/bliptv for video). Now, being an early-adopter in this space I of course had a twitter account in march07 (… but didnt truly use it until recently. I was hoping to have more conversations on Twitter yet understood it was not designed for that. Still, so many users on Twitter use it to do just that. Discourse. And Twitter now needs to respond to this usage, this appeal. So they will add some type of conversation container so a threaded discussion can be handled better. But to address your comment, Eric, that Twitter as a medium caters to the headline/soundbyte culture…. That def jives more with their intended use as a short user “status” update in response to “What are you doing?” since both are meant to be short text. It’s quite obvious, due to the popularity of Twitter, that people are not ONLY going to use it to post status updates throughout their day. It has marketing appeal. It has “soundbyte” appeal. That is a common usage intermixed with personal status updates, fragments of conversations and link sharing.”Didn’t we hate older media for dishing out the headline and now -we’re- doing it?”Not sure it was hatred in the format as much as it is the cherry-picking. We are largely a headline centric people. So many of us are in rush mode. So many of us are interested but not passionate about many topics…. so a Headline will do. Maybe a few paragraphs if you’re feeling especially motivated. Whether that is good or not so good… Well that’s prob another discussion to be had.Twitter and text messaging (SMS) needs to be 140 characters despite anything else. Sure, Twitter could allow for posts to be longer and either only send the first 140chars or just send links to the tweet url or not send longer messages at all as an SMS message. But for the sake of staying on topic, I wont get into those options beyond saying that one day, we might see them offered by Twitter.I like having the 140char constraint though. It forces you to use your words wisely and all that. And thus, it is a good use for headlines, quotes, haiku, “soundbytes” and experimental collaborations like writing lyrics and stories etc.Since threaded discussions are lacking… we rely on hacks and 3rd party projects to try and connect the tweets. Or we read a tweet and that initiates a blog post that can link back to the tweet permalink if needed. Some bloggers embed a screenshot of one or more tweets in their blog post to add the proper context. It is this approach that I took notice to a few months back. I realized that their was not a “share this tweet” option on Twitter.I think it may be relevant to this discussion to point to an experimental mashup service I launched called Tweetshots. It was specifically meant to provide a way to share a tweet and have a threaded discussion. Tweetshots are, as you may have guessed, Tweet Screenshots.You use a bookmarklet to generate the tweetshot and then you are able to post it to Tumblr, email it to someone or just grab the simple embed code. I use Tumblr + Disqus and I wanted to share tweets on my Tumblr. So now I can do that fairly easily and have a discussion using Disqus. Oh and it also takes any links found in a tweet and includes them as hyperlinks, which is useful. See if it’s of interest.This certainly does not solve Twitter’s own issue of managing discussions so its only another fragmented approach but it’s not so bad to use a tweet as a blog post initiator. I think this is what Fred is trying to convey here…. whether or not a tweet alone could be worthy as an info source or if it is a conversation around that tweet…. and does that conversation need to be on Twitter or not?Twitter def has value for any aggregator engine. Whether it is a techmeme or a more complicated data analysis backend engine that tries to make the data useful for detecting trends, tracking brand mentions and building AI ;). But I do think that a Techmeme would be better served to primarily track the blog posts/conversations that are maybe derived from a tweet as opposed to the tweet itself.

    1. CCjudy

      This is similar conversation to is asking what is Learning 2.0@Jason Bocardo