Techmeme and the “A-list” canard

by Mathew on May 5, 2008 · 30 comments

As a fan of Techmeme, I try to stick up for the site whenever someone writes about how it’s just an “echo chamber,” or how it’s dominated by the “A-listers” — so it’s nice to see a little empirical data from Yuvi, the 17-year-old data guru behind Statbot. Yuvi and his statistical abilities were recently re-discovered by the now-ubiquitous Louis Gray (who himself is living proof that Techmeme and the so-called “A-list” can be broken into by just about anyone if they are determined enough).

Yuvi tracked the data from Techmeme’s headlines and found that while 30 per cent of those headline links come from what might be called “A-list” blogs, another 30 per cent come from blogs that are probably on the C or even the F-list. It’s easy to complain about that first 30 per cent — and perhaps it’s even valuable to point out that a certain proportion of the blogosphere gets more than its share of attention.

That’s a good thing to remind ourselves of, even just so that we can all keep our eyes open for new and worthwhile blogs, like Corvida’s SheGeeks, or Sarah in Tampa, or the next Louis Gray. But I still think not enough attention gets paid to the other 30 per cent that Yuvi talks about — the blogs that are just being discovered. They are there — all you have to do is look for them. And when you find them, link to them.

  • http://www.sarahintampa.com sarahintampa

    Wow, thanks for the compliment! :)

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    My pleasure, Sarah.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Not enough attention gets paid to the blogs that mostly nobody ever has heard of? Uh…duh!

    Sorry, but c'mon. *Of course* it's that way, what other way could it be!? People linking to new blogs is a big part of the discovery process, but there's a reason Louis Gray is now ubiquitous and it's not just that he's smart — it's that he worked hard at ubiquity.

    At this point, content would have to be extra, extra, good and — and this is the key — *unique* to just wind up finding eyeballs by itself. There's just not much like that out there and there never will be much. Mourning that it works that way will not change that it works that way.

    The lion's share of the burden must fall on the person producing the content. Some people are much better at “gaining share” than others, and that is not necessarily (or probably even usually) purely a function of the quality of content.

  • Stketcher

    Like you say Lous Gray is proof that people outside the called A-list bloggers can get into techmeme, another example is the SheGeeks blog that has gotten around 3 articles show up on techmeme has well.

    While some of the ranting thats going around may be true all you need to do is work hard, be consistent and stop ranting.

  • http://www.centernetworks.com allen

    im about to bust a nut, seriously.

  • AJ

    Correction! Louis Gray didnt discover Yuvi. Scoble discovered him 2 years ago!

  • AJ
  • http://www.louisgray.com/live/ Louis Gray

    It's not a contest. :-) I didn't claim I discovered Yuvi. But I have been working with Yuvi on his new StatBot site, and was first to talk about it when he launched. But yes, Yuvi was trading blogs with Scoble before I did.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, AJ — my mistake. I guess Louis re-discovered him then :-)

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    BAH HUMBUG!

    Let me know how many links I can post without triggering a spam-trap, this utter nonsense is a FAQ by now.

    Here, have one: Jon Garfunkel: “The New Gatekeepers”
    http://civilities.net/TheNewGatekeepers

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks as usual, Seth — although the “bah, humbug” routine is getting
    a little old, don't you think? Time for some new material.
    Obviously, none of this is to say that there aren't “gatekeepers” or
    whatever terminology you want to use — I've admitted that countless
    times in similar posts. My point is that there is still plenty of
    room for content from unknowns or little-knowns to emerge and be
    recognized. That's good, isn't it?

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Don't have a cow, man.

    I would in fact claim your statement (“content from unknowns”) is false, except in a trivial way. That is, blog-evangelists don't say: “With all the newspapers and trade-journals being published, with all the 24/7 news programs, there is still plenty of room for content from unknowns or little-knowns to emerge and be recognized in the mainstream media – and look, x% of people quoted or sound-bited come from The Long Tale!”

    Have another link:

    Nick Carr: “The Great Unread”

    http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2006/08/the_g

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    First of all, saying that it's false “except in a trivial way” means
    that it's true, but you think the parts that are true are trivial. I
    disagree. And secondly, your comparison to blogs and being quoted in
    the mainstream media is ridiculous. I reject it on the grounds that
    it is irrelevant, incorrect and — most of all — boring.

  • Scobleizer

    I'm rediscovering all sorts of things since Louis came along. Heheh. If I cared about stuff like this I'd drive myself nuts. I love that Yuvi is getting more attention. The dude is smart.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Aye Carumba!

    By “except in a trivial way”, I meant you could give it a meaning where it was true, but that meaning would be trivial, depending on what you meant by “plenty of room”. There are almost by definition few high attention slots, but it would likely be said to mean something like “lots of chances to win the (attention) lottery” (even though very few people do win), and that's what I'd mean by trivial.

    The idea of the comparison is how one could construct similar spurious reasoning to “prove” the MSM is open, democratic, anyone can break-in (pointing to the few people who do), etc.

    Oh, have another link:

    Shelley Powers: “Guys Don't Link”

    http://burningbird.net/connecting/guys-dont-link/

  • http://www.sarahintampa.com sarahintampa

    Wow, thanks for the compliment! :)

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    My pleasure, Sarah.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Not enough attention gets paid to the blogs that mostly nobody ever has heard of? Uh…duh!

    Sorry, but c'mon. *Of course* it's that way, what other way could it be!? People linking to new blogs is a big part of the discovery process, but there's a reason Louis Gray is now ubiquitous and it's not just that he's smart — it's that he worked hard at ubiquity.

    At this point, content would have to be extra, extra, good and — and this is the key — *unique* to just wind up finding eyeballs by itself. There's just not much like that out there and there never will be much. Mourning that it works that way will not change that it works that way.

    The lion's share of the burden must fall on the person producing the content. Some people are much better at “gaining share” than others, and that is not necessarily (or probably even usually) purely a function of the quality of content.

  • Stketcher

    Like you say Lous Gray is proof that people outside the called A-list bloggers can get into techmeme, another example is the SheGeeks blog that has gotten around 3 articles show up on techmeme has well.

    While some of the ranting thats going around may be true all you need to do is work hard, be consistent and stop ranting.

  • http://www.centernetworks.com allen

    im about to bust a nut, seriously.

  • AJ

    Correction! Louis Gray didnt discover Yuvi. Scoble discovered him 2 years ago!

  • AJ
  • http://www.louisgray.com/live/ Louis Gray

    It's not a contest. :-) I didn't claim I discovered Yuvi. But I have been working with Yuvi on his new StatBot site, and was first to talk about it when he launched. But yes, Yuvi was trading blogs with Scoble before I did.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, AJ — my mistake. I guess Louis re-discovered him then :-)

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    BAH HUMBUG!

    Let me know how many links I can post without triggering a spam-trap, this utter nonsense is a FAQ by now.

    Here, have one: Jon Garfunkel: “The New Gatekeepers”
    http://civilities.net/TheNewGatekeepers

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks as usual, Seth — although the “bah, humbug” routine is getting
    a little old, don't you think? Time for some new material.
    Obviously, none of this is to say that there aren't “gatekeepers” or
    whatever terminology you want to use — I've admitted that countless
    times in similar posts. My point is that there is still plenty of
    room for content from unknowns or little-knowns to emerge and be
    recognized. That's good, isn't it?

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Don't have a cow, man.

    I would in fact claim your statement (“content from unknowns”) is false, except in a trivial way. That is, blog-evangelists don't say: “With all the newspapers and trade-journals being published, with all the 24/7 news programs, there is still plenty of room for content from unknowns or little-knowns to emerge and be recognized in the mainstream media – and look, x% of people quoted or sound-bited come from The Long Tale!”

    Have another link:

    Nick Carr: “The Great Unread”

    http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2006/08/the_g

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    First of all, saying that it's false “except in a trivial way” means
    that it's true, but you think the parts that are true are trivial. I
    disagree. And secondly, your comparison to blogs and being quoted in
    the mainstream media is ridiculous. I reject it on the grounds that
    it is irrelevant, incorrect and — most of all — boring.

  • http://scobleizer.com Scobleizer

    I'm rediscovering all sorts of things since Louis came along. Heheh. If I cared about stuff like this I'd drive myself nuts. I love that Yuvi is getting more attention. The dude is smart.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Aye Carumba!

    By “except in a trivial way”, I meant you could give it a meaning where it was true, but that meaning would be trivial, depending on what you meant by “plenty of room”. There are almost by definition few high attention slots, but it would likely be said to mean something like “lots of chances to win the (attention) lottery” (even though very few people do win), and that's what I'd mean by trivial.

    The idea of the comparison is how one could construct similar spurious reasoning to “prove” the MSM is open, democratic, anyone can break-in (pointing to the few people who do), etc.

    Oh, have another link:

    Shelley Powers: “Guys Don't Link”

    http://burningbird.net/connecting/guys-dont-link/

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