Is there an echo in here?

This has been said before, but it bears repeating: Chris Pirillo — the guy behind Gnomedex — has a post with some good advice in it about how to keep your blog from becoming part of the blogosphere echo chamber, where everyone writes about the same things and then dozens of blogs pile up on Techmeme like tractor-trailers jack-knifing on the I-95. This is a problem my friend Rob Hyndman has written about recently, and so has Jeremy Zawodny.

Chris’s advice is well worth reading, including “Don’t live inside your news aggregator” and “Stop whining (or worrying) about what list you’re on (or not on)” — of course, his list also includes “create, don’t regurgitate” and “say something original at least once a day,” but for the purposes of this post I’m going to ignore those. The core of his advice is to try and lift your head above the fray and think of something new, and to link to someone other than the usual suspects.

I’ve been trying to follow this latter suggestion ever since my friend Kent Newsome mentioned his “second opinion” idea, in which he tries to link to a lesser-known blogger whenever possible. Now, whenever I’m looking at Techmeme or Tailrank or Popurls, I try to look for names I don’t recognize and scan their posts to see if they have anything of value to add (which they often do). I still look at the usual suspects, but I do my best to at least read and potentially link to bloggers I haven’t read before — although Kent warns that this can go too far sometimes.

Jeneane Sessum has some similar advice she calls “global bloggers link out day,” and Duncan Riley has his own thoughts on the subject of how to keep your blog from getting stale.

8 thoughts on “Is there an echo in here?

  1. Pingback: Newsome.Org

  2. there seems to be a groundswell building. it’s not quite an anti-techmeme movement but perhaps frustration/fatigue with the same old names being cited all the time. for example, techcrunch is great but after awhile you can’t help but wonder why everything cited on techcrunch immediately goes to techmeme. it’s like techcrunch is the first, if not the final, word. anyway, i’m with you and trying to write “off the grid” more often.

  3. I don’t know if anybody’s noticed that, but everybody reporting on Chris Pirillo are doing exactly what he’s stating in the post. I just thought there’s a sweet irony with this meme.

    The easiest way you can spot an echo is to look for the words “so and so has a nice post about something something”

    1. They’re definitely living within their news agrregator
    2. They’re not saying something original. (it’s really not! it’s merely their own spin on something existent)
    3. Most of the the time, they’re quoting/mentioning someone famouse like Chris
    4. Though they don’t necessary link to the same sites all the time, one can play six degrees of blog linking and come back to the same site again!
    5. Waiting a week won’t get you links, nor will you get your readers respect, they’ll just say, oh… you’re so lame, Chris was last week’s news!
    6. Don’t regurgitate? Need I say more?
    7. Buzzwords? I saw blogosphere, echo chamber, advice .. the list goes on
    8. I seldom find people will be uncomfortable. Look at all those trackbacks on problogger!
    9. Lists are so yesterday, wait.. blog about that! And make it into a list if you can!
    10. Yah, stop saying we need to get out. After all, we want your audience to be my audience.

    Just some rants… =)

  4. This is a new set of conditions for human beings, and yet it involves our oldest tools .. symbols for making meaning used to grope and struggle together towards shared meaning and understanding. I’ve always believed that blogging (or expressing oneself on the web through personal publishing, or whatever) will follow a similar .. and sometimes different .. process as acquiring language, or learning another language. In other words, people will start doing it, emulate others, give each other advice and correct each other .. hit a plateau, rest for a while (if any of you have ever worked hard at acquiring another language you’ll know it can get physically taxing after a long day of using the neurons differently), and then start again … and then all of a sudden you’ll notice greater fluency and range.

    I suspect that the coming 3 to 5 years will see more (quantitatively) and greater variety of what so far I call blog-like derivatives, and the blending of blogging with wiki-ing (hmm, I guess that’s WetPaint ?) and other application that support the dynamics of personal publishing, hyperlinking, pointing to others, social bookmarking, tagging, etc. to a wider range of purposes in a wider range of human and organizational activities.

    It is for sure that keeping to your beaten track will narrow your world more and more, and that is a recipe for us replicating, by and large, what we already do in real life at work and with friends. One of the great promises of this marriage of technology and sociology is the expansiveness and learning that is possible if we choose to work consciously at breaking patterns and developing new habits.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Jon. I hope you are right.

    And Vince, the irony you refer to is not lost on me — that’s why I said I was ignoring some of Chris’s suggestions for the post. I prefer not to think of what I was doing in my post as echoing, but more like supporting and affirming. I guess that’s a judgment call though. I definitely got it from my aggregator, but I don’t think I regurgitated — and just for the record, “advice” isn’t really a buzzword 🙂

  6. Hi, a few thoughts:

    – I want Techmeme to be an interesting Tech news site. If the best coverage of stories occurs over a larger number of sites than I currently capture, I would indeed like more diversity than I have now. If not, then I don’t need more diversity. Ultimately, I’m about interesting news, not diversity.
    – TechCrunch reports lots of interesting and breaking news. I can’t see any reasonable scenario where it won’t appear very often on Techmeme.
    – I do hope to make Techmeme a little less blog insiderish, which I suspect should help the diversity thing, a little.
    – I run into a lot of people with criticisms of Techmeme, and while I’ve heard the point about “X, Y, and Z appear far too often”, it’s almost always been bloggers who’ve raised that issue. This is rarely a concern among the non-blogging readers who make up the vast majority. No discernable groundswell there.
    – I have noticed a groundswell among the same crowd who echoed each other onto the top of Techmeme a few months back:
    Sorry, can’t please everybody!

    Ok, that last point was just a fun, gratuitous slap, no insult intended. Thanks for all your thoughts, and I hope I can make Techmeme better for you while keeping other users’ preferences in mind as well.

  7. Thanks for the comment, Gabe. I don’t think this is an anti-Techmeme thing, at least not from my perspective. I think you do a pretty good job of reflecting what bloggers are writing about — although more diversity is always a good thing, to keep things from getting stale.

    I think the problem (if there is one) is that people get all wrapped up in whatever the top posts are at Techmeme and wind up just writing about that instead of thinking of something fresh. That’s not your fault, obviously — and I think lots of lesser-known voices show up on the site, if you take the time to look.

    And thanks for the flashback to when we ganged up to rule Techmeme — I have a wall-sized poster on order 🙂

  8. of course, Vince is most famous for his pathetic linkbait attempt by swiping a blog design as his own – and when called on it got sooo offended.

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