Meme13: Rogers Cadenhead responds

Rogers Cadenhead, who long ago in another lifetime worked with Dave “I invented RSS” Winer, popped up this week with a Techmeme filter called Meme13 — a site that pulls feeds from the newest blogs to hit the charts on the Techmeme Leaderboard, in an attempt to cut through the usual Techmeme spotlight hogs (you know who you are) and show people some new content. When I heard about it, I thought it was a great idea — expose people to new, up-and-coming blogs, etc. etc.

Some people, however — including several bloggers I respect, such as Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests and Frederic of The Last Podcast — immediately posted Twitter messages, followed by blog posts, calling Rogers’ new thing “a scraper blog.” As Tony outlines in his post, he believes that publishing the full feeds is no different than any of the dozens of scrapers out there. Frederic says in his post that he agrees, and that while Shyftr — the most recent subject of a blogstorm over appropriating feeds — tried to create some value, Meme13 just scrapes.

Since I’ve emailed back and forth with Rogers Cadenhead in the past, I asked him for a response. Here’s what he said (posted with his permission):

“I figured that concern would be raised at some point. Sites don’t stay on Meme13 for long — around two weeks at present — and never come back. Although I could cut from full-text to partial, I think this weakens the ability to sample these bloggers.

Another thing I’m not doing is keeping old content around. I don’t think I’ll be archiving old entries. I think the short-term use of the feeds makes Meme13 legal and a bit different than a scraper, but we’ll see how it is received by the community.”

For what it’s worth, I sympathize with Tony and Frederic — but I don’t think Meme13 is anything to get too upset by. If anything, I think it provides a service by making it easier to find new content, which I think many Techmeme critics would agree is a good thing (Marshall has another way at the Read/Write Web blog). And as Mike Masnick has noted at Techdirt on the Shyftr question, sites that repost your RSS feed can actually be beneficial, and at worst are a nuisance that will soon fade if you are providing real value (which Tony does).

Ironically, as Tony has noted, Meme13 has been showing his post about the flaws in Meme13 as the top post for some time now. Says Rogers: “My robot has already turned against me.” In any case, whether you like Meme13 or not, it’s apparently all Steven Hodson’s fault :-).

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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