Leaving TechMeme

Techmeme

It may seem obvious to some wiser than me, but every now and then I realize that I need to disrupt my habits, force-inject some new behaviors and shift-reload the inputs into my thinking.

Above you can see what the top left corner of WebKit looks like to me everyday. In a nutshell, it depicts the places I visit the most. You’ll notice that TechMeme comes second after the Ma.gnolia bookmarklet. That’s a pretty prime spot to occupy in terms of shaping (or warping) my perspective.

Don’t get me wrong: TechMeme is a very well executed news service; above all else, its presentation and hierarchy of information is excellent and serves my goal of consuming a lot of information in aggregate in a very short amount of time. It’s as good a zeitgeist as any when it comes to what certain people are thinking about.

And therein lies the rub.

TechMeme provides an interesting and compelling overview of what’s hot in conventional tech news. It is, however, overly self-referential, and, insomuch as it gives greater weight to certain “types” of people and posts, it ends up becoming necessarily more often than not. And on top of that, the pundits who are featured prominently on its pages (and who like to argue amongst each other who’s popular and who’s not (n.b. I avoided reading any of those posts during that maelstrom; I provide the link merely for context)) have certain priorities that, well, just don’t overlap so well with mine.

I mean, it’s good to know what’s up with Google and Yahoo and Microsoft, and what the latest startups are up to and so on. It’s also fun to see what the latest controversies are over net discrimination and the what arcane nonsense is being attempted to fasten down the semantic web… But I think I’ve had my fill of that for now. Frankly, It’s time to turn off the firehose.

Maybe it’s because I’m leaving for a week Oaxaca and I need a reset; or maybe it’s realizing that I’ve so much to do and I have to stop measuring myself by what everyone else is doing (or has already done). Or maybe it’s because I can feel the sentiment and motivations of the tech community changing ever-so-gradually and becoming increasingly corrupt. Or who knows, maybe nothing has changed except that I need to rearrange some furniture just for the sake of change.

Whatever the case, it’s time to bid adieu to the link that’s been occupying second position on my browser’s bookmark bar for the last umpteen months. I’m going to have to go back to piecing things together one by one on my own; digging up my own dirt, assembling my own theories instead of the ones advanced by crowd economics, leaving the punditry to be consumed by other more capable pundits. Maybe I’ll come back someday — in fact, I probably will. But, as a sheer exercise of will (or perhaps as a mere act of intention), as of today, I’m leaving TechMeme.

Deleting Techmeme

10 Comments

  1. Zach Hale said
    at 12am on Oct 21st # |

    A wise decision I’d say. I foresee a return to TechMeme a few times over the next one or two months until realizing for good that there was a reason why you left in the first place and will call it quits. Then, 3 months later, you will re-subscribe because you spend more time thinking about what you might be missing on TechMeme than it would take to just follow the site like you used to. Or at least that’s what happened to me, with BoingBoing.

    There’s only so much tech community BS a person can take. More power to you in resisting!

  2. Gabe said
    at 12am on Oct 21st # |

    You will continue using Techmeme in your dreams. There’s really no escape.

  3. Sam Sethi said
    at 12am on Oct 21st # |

    Hi Chris

    The new homepage on blognation is an alternative to techmeme. We are building up the sites we cover globally but of the 300 bloggers we now track (globally) what surprised me the most was the lack of repetion in the conversation. I too felt techmeme had stifled the conversation around a few big networks but am glad to say the blogosphere is alive and well if we just look further a field.

    Although we have built the new homepage to replicate the functionality of techmeme e.g if a story is covered by several bloggers we will link them together but so far there has been very little need to do so as 90% of the stories have been varied.

    The tag line for blognation is one nation, many voices. We have built out the countries now we are adding the voices.

  4. MG Sielger said
    at 2am on Oct 21st # |

    All fair points and I can certainly see where you’re coming from, but my advice would be to sit back and weather the storm. I think this bitching/self-referential session about Techmeme will soon yield to actual news again.

    I’ve already suggested a ‘backpage’ of sorts for Techmeme, to allow those who don’t simply write about the biggest stories of the day to be showcased, maybe something will come of that.

  5. at 4am on Oct 21st # |

    There’a another way to leave Techmeme, block it from crawling your site in your robots.txt file.

    To be excluded from the TM crawler, put these two lines in your robots.txt file.

    User-agent: Wazzup

    Disallow: /

  6. at 7am on Oct 21st # |

    @Zach — thanks.

    @Gabe: we shall see. Dreaming in ocean green does have a certain appeal to it.

    @Sam: when I’m ready for aggregated news again, I’ll check it out. Thanks for the tip!

    @MG: I’m not actually leaving because of the popularity contest/leaderboard controversy. I kind of take that kind of thing for granted on TechMeme. What I’m really leaving is TechMeme’s subset of news. It’s no real slight against TechMeme, it’s just that I’m looking for some new influences on my thinking! ;)

    @Dave: Thanks for that. Hadn’t thought about kicking myself out of TechMeme, but that’s a good thing to consider as well. It’ll certainly keep me wondering less about whether anything I’ve written has hit the index! ;)

  7. sean coon said
    at 10am on Oct 21st # |

    change is good.

  8. Christopher Allen said
    at 3pm on Oct 21st # |

    I left TechMeme and similar pages a while ago because of what I call “Tyranny of the Popular”.

    Of the entirety of the long tail of conversations on the web, I don’t want all the huge tail end, but I also don’t want the asymptotic top of the tail either. No tools I’ve found yet can help me automate finding these ‘tween conversions.

  9. at 6pm on Oct 21st # |

    I completely agree, there’s so much echo, and that’s why I wrote this piece

    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/10/16/bloggers-stop-wasting-techmeme-real-estate/

  10. at 11pm on Oct 21st # |

    Hi Chris,
    it’s not just TechMeme, but also the major sites all coming up wiht the same “exclusive” scoops. People get into a vacuum and don’t get out of it, unless you change your reading behavior.
    But there is still lots of new and great things to be found on the web:
    http://vanelsas.wordpress.com/2007/10/15/re-discovering-great-things-on-the-web/

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Leaving TechMeme | FactoryCity Chris Messina: “I’m going to have to go back to piecing things together one by one on my own; digging up my own dirt, assembling my own theories instead of the ones advanced by crowd economics, …” (tags: techmeme memeorandum knowledge blogging) [...]

  2. [...] TechMeme does foster an “echo effect.” This post is a case in point. It’s like one sees a bunch of people yapping about a [...]

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