TechMeme, Bitchmeme, Watercooler

October 21, 2007

My initial thought when reading this article at Geek New Central was: here we go again with the A-list blogging thing. The article claims that there’s an SEO strategy of releasing press releases to several of the A-list bloggers in order to get buzz and eventually link juice when Google indexes TechMeme. Paid links might be involved.

This situation is inevitable – PR firms are paid to get the word out, and seek to find the places people gather to share information. But blogging still feels different than traditional media, because there is a huge check and balance in comments and the blogosphere itself. If it was found out that an A-lister was writing about certain subjects for cash, the word would spread quickly. The hit to reputation would surely not be worth the “payola”. Second, many have publicly voiced their skepticism of companies like PayPerPost, or believe strongly in disclosure.

Personally, I’d be more concerned by the potential B, C, D, and below bloggers that would be more wooed by “payola” because they feel they have no reputation to squander, or this annoying splog situation that attempts to gain link juice by brute force.

Ultimately, I feel that whether or not to run paid links or listen to PR firms is ultimately a disclosure / policy issue that is particular to that blog. As far as Webomatica is concerned:

If you disagree with my behavior in regards to any of this stuff, please let me know.

But TechMeme Can Be Very Echoey

Still, 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 television show you’re watching, prodding you to run over there and add your two cents – even if sometimes, it’s just “I saw that show!”. If I link to the headline TechMeme story in the body of the post, sometimes I get a TechMeme link and a little bit of attention.

It’s freaking addicting. And I’m not sure if it’s good or bad for this blog.

Some thoughts:

So in conclusion, I don’t think tech blogging is broken by any means, but recent observations lead me to conclude that aggregators like TechMeme do nothing to bust the stereotype that the blogosphere is still just one huge echo chamber. TechMeme may be the blogosphere equivalent of a watercooler. It serves a purpose but it’s ultimately not the place where actual work is being done.

Comments

  1. I agree with you Jason that the tech blogosphere isn’t broken overall but I do think that it does have its weak spots in the mid to lower tiers as you point out. I also think that discussions like these can be good as long as they don’t degrade into name calling and the such. Our readers – while they might not think so initially – benefit when they read these “reflective” posts because it help them see where our ethical boundaries are and if it suits them.

  2. I agree with you Jason that the tech blogosphere isn't broken overall but I do think that it does have its weak spots in the mid to lower tiers as you point out. I also think that discussions like these can be good as long as they don't degrade into name calling and the such. Our readers – while they might not think so initially – benefit when they read these “reflective” posts because it help them see where our ethical boundaries are and if it suits them.

  3. webomatica says:

    Yep the ethical boundary is worth stating – also because, I find I like to read blogs that have somewhat similar boundraies to what I try to practice.