Feature Friday: Techmeme

Yesterday Techmeme launched a redesign. I like it. Nicely done Gabe.

I thought I'd use this news as a jumping off point to talk about my favorite feature on Techmeme. When a news event happens, I like to see various pundits' take on it without having to click thru and read every post.

Techmeme has always done this better than any other news service. Let's take this news that Twitter can now comply with local censorship laws and takedown notices without taking down a tweet globally (good news in my mind).

It looks like this in Techmeme:

Techmeme regular

But if you click on the down arrow on the left of the news item, you get a "blown out" version of the news story which looks like this:

Techmeme opened up
Granted that these are only headlines and they can't and don't give you a full sense of the take that each of these writers has on the news. But a quick scan of the tone and tenor of the headlines will tell you quite a bit. And when you've got 30 seconds to take a quick look at what's going on in the tech world, that's worth a lot.

I use this feature often. At least once a day. Many times way more than that.

For tech news, I've tried pretty much everything new that comes along, and for the past four or five years now, nothing beats the duo of Techmeme and Hacker News for me. Each has its benefits and together, you can get a great sense of what is going on in tech in real-time all the time. Thanks Gabe and Paul for building these services and maintaining them.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    Information overload. Can the human mind deal with the data avalanche?

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Ofcourse. Info on the web is flowing like the RF (radio frequency) in the air and people have been tuning to the specific frequency they want to listen.Now they will choose only few sites.

      1. jason wright

        I do take your point with good grace, but this not like radio. If it is like radio then we each have our own little station blasting away, but with a LOT of static and crackle interfering with the flow of good messages. I like the idea of curation. It’s good if the curator is respected and has the best of intentions (which leads to respect).  

  2. LIAD

    Despite their supposed great content, I’ve never been able to use Techmeme, or Reddit for that matter, because their design felt like I was having my eyes gorged out with a rusty spoon and then stomped on.Function before form only works up to a point. I’m glad to see the redesign. Finally. 

    1. fredwilson

      i love that butt ugly UIi love redditi love old techmemei love original delicious

      1. leigh

        LOL i was going to say the opposite — i’m always that bad user who hates change.  The new design feels so frou frou.  I’ll get used to it but I miss the butt ugly UI.(and i use Wesmirch just as much and it’s even uglier 🙂

      2. tyronerubin

        And stumbleupon?

      3. RichardF

        still love delicious, I hope the new owners take it in the right direction.

        1. awaldstein

          I was a delicious power user for ever. Truly loved the product.The transition was so messy to the new owners and to me at least, their direction so unclear, that I simply jumped to Pinboard. No frills. Rock solid bookmarking product. It works. I’m done looking or changing for a long while.

          1. RichardF

            I agree that the direction is unclear arnold.I had no problem with the transition but from what I can gather there was a cut off date imposed by the purchase from yahoo.the bookmarking interface in delicious is pretty good now.The potential is enormous I think. Delicious could be the place I queue up and watch video or listen to music, instapaper articles i want to read later as well allow me to discover new stuff based on my bookmark profile.

          2. awaldstein

            Agreed.For me, they lost my data and were unresponsive for a few weeks during the transition. I’ve been on the other side of the table of course, but some things happen that you simply loose the customer and that can’t be turned. That happened with me. And honestly, the entire bookmarking, curation, connection to ever intersecting networks has lost its luster for me. Directionally I’ve moved on I think. 



    2. Rohan

      AGREE.I wish it could be made still simpler. 

    3. Cynthia Schames

      I’m with @liad:disqus on this. The butt ugly design has always really deterred me, but I actually soldiered on with Techmeme. I’m so relieved that I don’t have to look at the old style anymore.  Reddit is still a no go for me because I have my limits.That said, the other day on Twitter someone posted a link to a gold buying website that looked like MySpace mated with Space Invaders, as imagined by a drunk toddler.  And they pointed out that this gold buying company had done something like $70 million in sales last year.

      1. LIAD

        I think this all ties in to Maslow.When needs..must, you will put up with anything.But, when you’re not in desperation, you can choose to be a little more discerning.

    4. William Mougayar

      Reddit is coming back very strong. The amount of commenting on that site is staggering.

      1. LIAD

        Reddit is a traffic and comment monster.I just don’t get why they don’t invest a little in the design.

        1. fredwilson

          maybe their community likes it that way

          1. LIAD

            fair dues.

          2. Cynthia Schames

            Agreed, I think loyal Reddit readers take a sort of perverse pride in the violently unfriendly look of the site. 

          3. bijan

            there is something so nice about raw design vs polished. i’m dreading the day google forces me to the new ui in gmail. 

          4. Mark Essel

            It is not awesome.Of course it opens the door (kicks us violently out 😉 to other mail options and clients.

          5. William Mougayar

            I think so. it reflects its eclectic nature.- posted via http://engag.io

        2. nickgs

          I don’t think they would be able execute any type of new design with out a large back lash from their community. In addition, there are alot of great styles that the community has built: http://userstyles.org/style… 

          1. LIAD

            Question is whether the community backlash would be on principle or because they actually like the current UII actually read HN through a community made chrome extension which overlays a clean minimal design.I need and want to visit HN multiple times a day, may as well enjoy the experience.

  3. JimHirshfield

    I liked Gabe’s rant against underlined hyperlinks. Well, not really a rant. But anyway, I see you concur.

    1. BillSeitz

      The problem with not underlining is that if there are consecutive words with *different* links you don’t realize it until you mouse-over (or, on mobile, actually click).

      1. JimHirshfield

        Great point. So you’d have to use different colors/shades…and before you know it, your content is lit up like a Christmas tree.

  4. Rohan

    Here’s a welcome to the weekend chuckle for all..On twitter after Beyonce had her baby a couple of weeks ago.. ‘Thank God Beyonce had her baby and can go back to work. For the past 6 months that family’s had to live entirely on Jay-Z’s salary.’ | Conan O Brien

  5. Modernist

    I tested it with “zynga”.  The site captured the relevant headlines with better nuance than google news.

    1. fredwilson

      i dont use it for search, but i just tried a few searches and you are right that it is very good

  6. tacanderson


  7. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Does Techmeme gives tech news in real-time? Seriously ? I don’t read techmeme and  am surprised why this tweeter news is still on the first page (top)??Today morning i was cursing the local news paper which printed this news today on their tech page… which i read in GigaOm 3-days back.

  8. gregorylent

    watch twitter be censored in america in 2012

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think that will happen. but it would be an earth shattering event if it did

      1. gorbachev

        I don’t know if it’ll happen in 2012, but it will happen.I’m going to predict a whistleblower tweeting classified information regarding some sort of abuse by the US Government. That tweet will be censored.

      2. Ed Freyfogle

        Probably you would have said the same thing about a law that can be interpreted to give US govt power to detain citizens indefinitely without trial. It happened. Sure, will only apply if that citizen is a “terrorist”, but who defines terrorism?

    2. Brandon Marker

      There is no way to censor it at this point. It would be shut down before censored–and that just won’t happen.

    3. kidmercury

      twitter is already censored in america, when you consider how many american users self-censor. 

  9. Cam MacRae

    Not sold on the new design: At 1680×1050 it’s basically a blob of undifferentiated text when my nose is less than a foot from the screen, and even then there is insufficient contrast.



  10. kirklove

    I tried a bunch of “tech” news site. Techmeme is the only one that stuck and only one I visit on a daily basis. I like HackerNews, though it’s become a bit dominated by people complaining or promoting themselves, not news.TNW does a nice job as well.

    1. William Mougayar

      I think TNW articles will show up in TM if they have bubbled up in importance, no?

      1. kirklove

        They do, William.Though TNW often posts some more casual, off-beat stuff, mostly in their Tumblr actually and I like clicking through to read those. Plus, I find their graphic design appealing.

  11. Brandon Burns

    This post reminds me that there are people who favor function, and those who favor presentation. I can’t read either Hacker News or (to a lesser extent) Techmeme — they make my eyes bleed. I’m probably missing out on good content, but I miss out on all sorts of great content that isn’t presented in a visually appealing way.Got me thinking about launching a new platform. Bootstrapping vs. not, at least in a product-presentation sense. Some people say make it look un-pretty, early adopters will appreciate it more. Some disagree. There’s proof on both sides. Both are right, I think. Some people just favor function, some presentation. You’re probably not going to please both in the beginning.

  12. Tom Labus

    I like The Verge layout.

    1. Brandon Marker

      definitely agree.

  13. BillSeitz

    re the Twitter filtering… There doesn’t seem to be enough precision/clarity there to fully evaluate. Are they saying that blocks will continue to only happen via tweet-specific court order, or is there some more global/automated process involved, in the past or future?Right now the twitter ChillingEffects page is all DMCA notices. Is that really everything we should be concerned about?The list of international notices is pretty thin. Is that really complete? (Fred, I don’t expect you to know the answer to that, but somebody else might…) http://chillingeffects.org/…

    1. ShanaC

      Is there such thing as reasonable free speech?

  14. falicon

    Love techmeme as well…actually just built http://turfd.com for my own personal sports wants/needs and modeled it very much after techmeme (the core idea is techmeme for sports — right now it’s just a few sources but I’ll plug in more over time; and right now it’s all just automated but I’ll add in more techmeme-like features over time too).

  15. Sam

    http://www.techfiltered.com –  Just launched this, same goal as Techmeme but we have a different approach.Techmeme does a great job of highlighting news others are talking about. It’s hard to do that without injecting a bias, but they actually do a really good job. In fact results in our top stories section often match what’s on Techmeme, it’s just a matter of what order it’s in..What we’re trying to do differently is surface everything that’s important in tech (not just whats popular) and let people find it easily. We know keeping that simple is crucial, and it’s our biggest challenge.If you have 5 mins please take a look. There’s no better community to get feedback from! 

  16. Barry Nolan

    HackerNews V Techmeme – Seems to break stories much quicker (especially on the weekends), and I enjoy diving into the comment threads which often deliver the real insight.Techmeme – default to their River view.http://topsy.com/top100 achieves both relevance and oddballness.Hate the TC advertising clutter – so use TCFast.com – where you can choose your carrier – G+, NYTimes, HackerNews – to read Techcrunch.

  17. Mark Essel

    I’m not incredibly pleased that twitter is bending towards the will of censorship. It’s made immediately less reliable as an information source. Who decides what should be blocked, and will I even know as a user?

    1. Ed Freyfogle

      Realistically though what is the alternative? As one of the most harmless examples, if you want to do business as a media platform in Germany a legal requirement is to be able to stop/prevent/censor pro-Nazi messages.Alternatives I see area. don’t do business in such countries (meaning you’re going to miss some of the world’s biggest markets).b. do it, but try to keep it secret that you’re doing it.c. do it, but be open about it – the path twitter seems to have chosen.

      1. Mark Essel

        From a business standpoint I wholeheartedly agree that option c is better than b.From a digital communication platform perspective I see a deterioration of trust in the system. I’m more motivated as a user to find uncensored channels of information. It’s up to me to choose what I wish to tune into, not a third party. How do I know what’s being blocked from my attention? 

        1. Ed Freyfogle

          > It’s up to me to choose what I wish to tune into, not a third party.The obvious counterargument is that it’s up to a given society to decide the rules they want to live by. One man’s free speech is the next man’s hate crime.The best path for twitter in my opinion is – obey the rules of the land and make it clear to all when they are censoring and that they are doing it because of the rules of the land. If you don’t like it, change the rules. If they don’t how can they avoid falling into the trap of having to play judge and jury (and spending lots of time in courts). 

          1. raycote

            YesMake it clear by placing a censorship icon by any tweets coming from censored jurisdictions.Clicking on that icon takes you to a page outlining the censorship policy that applies in said jurisdiction.

          2. fredwilson

            twitter is making all take down notices public via a partnership with chillingeffects.org

          3. Mark Essel

            That’s a good start Ed.

      2. Otto

        The alternative is for people to change their government. But Twitter still has a choice and their choice here looks weak. Next thing you know Twitter will be snitching out users but they’ll throw up their hands and say, “What can we do?” This makes me wonder if Twitter would have just whimpered if SOPA had been passed. Politicians and bureaucrats now run Twitter. Twitter is dead.”The best way to discover what’s new in your world” ought to be changed to “the best way to join a mindless herd of government approved zombie thinkers”.

    2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      I kind of wonder what the Arab Spring would have been like if the individuals in a country could not view each other tweets?I would assume that by retweeting we would somehow create an OWS like human microphone?

    3. fredwilson

      i think everyone is reading way too much into this. this line in twitter’s blog post says it all to me“…if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.”

  18. Elia Freedman

    Techmeme is great for getting the biggest headlines each day from the top news sites. I’ve been noticing lately a derth of links to smaller writers (not at Techmeme, I mean, but in general). I have a lot of individual blog writers in my RSS feed who turn out some really amazing stuff but their stuff never makes these sites and doesn’t seem to find a general audience.I read this book series each year called The Greatest Sport Writing. They do one volume per year and it has 20+ stories in it, many from places or about sports I’d never read about otherwise. I look forward to it every year. I wish they had the same kind of thing on the web for tech, but I suspect it could be filled daily with great stuff.

    1. andyidsinga

      why I really like twitter .. I’ve found many blogs and stuff happening at the margins.I’ve never really caught on to techmeme ..the few times i’ve gone over there it felt like a ticker of conventional wisdom

  19. ShanaC

    I think I may be going blind.  I want them to up the contrast.  The old design in that sense was much easier to read.

    1. Dale Allyn

      Shana: I agree with you, but for me it’s partly font choice (Optima font is hard to read) combined with the reduced font-size (0.85em). When I remove those two CSS rules the page is much more legible to me. Also, darkening the citations under “More” to give more contrast (as you mention) really helps (#555 or #444 is better to me). Perhaps they’ll continue to tweak it for legibility. The current choices are not user-friendly for reading this type of content IMO. It’s fatiguing. 

      1. ShanaC

        Thank you for agreeing. everyone else seems to love it. I feel blind. I actually miss the old layout because there was more contrast/bigger fonts. Are you listening techmeme

        1. Dale Allyn

          Shana, I’m pretty obsessive about user experience and the user interface of web sites (personal blogs can be a bit of an exception and fun place to play or experiment). Form must follow function, and to me Techmeme is now more difficult to read and to use. Interestingly to me, prior to the design change I would guess that I checked Techmeme 10 or 12 times a day (even though it was ugly). I often take a quick glance while waiting on hold, or during other times where I need a change of mental scenery. But since the change I would guess that I’ve been there less that 8 times in total. In it’s current design state, Techmeme no longer fulfills my need or interest in getting the snapshot and links as it did before. It’s just plain difficult to read. I may apply my own style sheet to the site so that I can use it again, but that won’t fix the requirement to click to expand each section. Frankly, if they want this general look for the site, a few style changes to fonts, and returning the preference option to view all links at once would be an easy tweak for them. 

  20. Chris Phenner

    I agree that Techmeme + HN offers a great snapshot.And I device-shift from those sources to Instapaper for the subway.But what if interested in finding reading beyond existing chatter, I’m liking Zite (the app) increasingly, which I’ve noticed has all-but-replaced my going to Flipboard.My first five bookmark icons are attached; I’d love to see a post on AVC of who opens what five browser tabs first, and what sites appear within those tabs — a poor man’s ‘AVC News Graph.’

  21. Dale Allyn

    The old Techmeme was ugly, but I assimilated the headlines and subtext quickly in that format. The new design is “prettier” but slower for me. Part of that is the required adjustment on my part. However, I don’t like having to click to get the additional posts on any given topic. I liked the old option of seeing it all on page load. I hope they’ll allow a preference setting as before so I don’t need to click to expand every topic. For me, Techmeme is a frequent stop throughout the day, but if I have to click on every post to see the additional, related posts, I’ll likely not scan the site as often because of the wasted time to get what I want. I’ll just go when I have more time (less frequently throughout the day).

  22. Luke Chamberlin

    Techmeme makes Craigslist look like the Guggenheim.

  23. William Mougayar

    There’s something to be said about combining human+algorithmic curation and add on top of that Social signals. It’s a great combination.As good as TechMeme is, you can’t just rely on it exclusively, because you’ll get what everybody else is getting. It’s necessary, but not sufficient IF you want to have an edge with information. 

  24. seeingfurther

    These are expert and notable blogger opinions. Super useful to me as well. Do you think it would be useful to have an app/site that used NLP to process mass opinions and feelings into a similar condensed newsfeed format? Imagine you could scan a similar list summarizing what people were angry about –> #SOPA, what people were scared about –>  #Iran-closing-straits-of-hormuz or even East Coasters are happy about the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Those are just some fairly obvious examples but you can see where I’m going.

  25. Luke Chamberlin

    Re: the Twitter story.Great business move for Twitter, big step away from an open, global and uncensored internet.Do you think it’s a coincidence that Jack Dorsey just returned from the DLD Conference in Germany? And that all their examples of censorship are Nazi-related? How can you object to censorship of Nazi-related hate speech after all? This move was linked to a big push to expand in the German market.Censorship always begins by sounding reasonable.But how long before artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s tweets are censored in China? What are you willing to do to access a market of 1.3 billion people?I was so proud of Google when they pulled out of China over censorship. Very disappointed in the direction Twitter is heading.

    1. fredwilson

      twitter is blocked in china and has been for years

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        Twitter is officially blocked but it doesn’t stop people from using it and it doesn’t stop one of their most famous activists from having 100K+ followers.

        1. Daniel O'Prey

          It doesn’t stop people from using it, as I do, but what does is that all their friends are on Weibo, so there’s not too much encouragement to go to the effort/cost of getting a VPN just to follow some people and openly annoy the gov.

          1. Luke Chamberlin

            Someday there will be free speech around the globe and it will be because of those few people who undertook the extra effort and cost.We should be supporting them and not the governments who oppress them.

  26. kidmercury

    reminds me of what i call the density principle. (someone probably already had this idea i’m sure but i got excited when the light bulb went off in my head and i “discovered” it)to summarize:the internet creates great value by creating dense stuff and diffusing it. aggregators create dense knowledge and diffuse them. same for niche communities. social stuff does well in cities because of their population density. cleanweb will take the densest forms of energy and diffuse them.virtual money will take the densest forms of wealth and diffuse them.subject matter experts are knowledge dense and the internet helps them diffuse their knowledge. techmeme leverages the density principle. it creates information density through aggregation and then diffuses this via enabling technologies of the internet (i.e. web browsers, rss, mobile apps etc). the density principle. believe it!

    1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Kid,Its called a “Eureka Moment” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…We all have them!I am very interested in the Apple situation in China in regards to their manufacturing subcontractor, Foxconn.  So, when I visited Techmeme for the first time this morning I was thrilled to find all this “density” of sources to follow up on.Now, do note, I only quoted “density” not the “knowledge” because after reading every single noted source for further information I realize that I have increased the amount of opinions that I have been exposed to; the reality is having been a site contract administrator in Saudi Arabia for 5 years and having subcontracted apparel manufacturing out for 20 years, both domestically and internationally, I realize that my knowledge trumps opinions…I am waiting to see how Apple, Microsoft, and HP, continue to deal with the subcontracting out of their manufacturing and to see if the tech world deals with the issues of humane labor practices differently than say the apparel companies do in Central America.I think we need to be a little careful in how we characterize “knowledge,” “opinion,” and “information.”The reality is Apple has a contractual issue and there is nothing they can do to deal with the labor issues of Foxconn, thus until I can find a source from a “subject matter expert” that deal with the contractual issues rather than just the advertising and marketing smokescreen then much of what we call “knowledge” is just nothing more than information at best, and most likely nothing more than opinion.

      1. kidmercury

        true, i guess what we’re really looking for is high grade density! dense waste is just that — waste. 

  27. the truth

    so twitter is like youtube in a way that they can censor things by the country now

  28. Druce

    As a mad science experiment, I tried to build a similar social news aggregator for financial market news – http://linkfest.streeteye.combasically mines top financial blogs, twitter accounts, ranks the stories they are linking to, let’s people upvote them.if you’re into this sort of thing, check it out, upvote some stuff, let me know what you think!it’s at the stage where I find it useful, not sure if it has long-term commercial potential.</blatant>

    1. fredwilson

      holy shit. this is good. can i blog about it?

      1. Druce

        crap! I just saw this – of course!I think my AWS setup can handle an AVC thrashing, if you plan to, maybe drop a line?new URL – http://www.linkfest.comreally want to do the techmeme thing where you can expand the sources, give the authors props, probably a few weeks.hope there’s good snow out where you are!

  29. Craig Hunt

    Currently working on http://www.findingfarm.com  Hope it makes your list some day, but there is a long way to go…

  30. Prokofy

    TechMeme looks like something I might read now. It didn’t before. It looked like something made in Audio-Visual Club (AVC!) in 8th grade by nerds with pocket-protectors, and was so off-putting.What Twitter is doing with the censorship isn’t “better” and “more refined” and “transparent” but AWFUL because it *validates* censorship and in fact gets a “global conversation” going on it where the *net effect* will be to have everybody saying “oh, that country actually did the right thing” or “who wants to read that anyway” etc — and erode freedom of speech.And those lists of writers? all with one point of view. Someone like me is never there.