Every so often I feel like I am the last person to learn about something.
Groupon was like that. I heard about them the week before they closed a $150 million venture round. You have to have accomplished a lot to land that kind of money in 2010. I may have also been the last person to learn about Skype.
The latest is one I learned about called Techmeme, and there was a good article about them in the paper today (here). Evidently, Techmeme is where a most people in Silicon Valley go to get their news. It’s a news aggregation site so that we don’t have to all keep track of all of the various news sites that we like to go to, which is often more than 20 sites per day for some people. As Claire Cain Miller points out in the article, the reason Techmeme is so popular is because they have done some rethinking in terms of how to get the best content that saves them the work of “crawling” all over the web to aggregate the best content. Specifically she points out:
“Unlike RSS feeds, which gather everything on preselected sites or blogs, Techmeme groups stories according to importance, and clusters other reporters’ and bloggers’ perspectives on the same topic.”
The trick with all of this is that while some percentage of the content will be interesting to most readers, every reader is different and we are going to start to see more companies with smarter aggregation engines so that we get to a “MyTechmeme” notion for content that’s not so different from the way I track stocks on my “My Yahoo!”page. As organizations get smarter about collecting data about what we like and don’t like (Netflix remains the best at that – and then using that information to be much smarter about making recommendations). It’s already starting to happen with location based services – now that FourSquare has two million users it’s hard to ignore, while I still think they have the wrong model, that space is really ripe right now.
Content aggregation will continue to be hard, but it’s exciting to see a company like Techmeme really approach the space from a different angle to get very different results. As Miller’s article also points out, while some people worry that great journalism is going away because people want shorter snippets of news, the real art now is the orchestration and management of the content to the delight of their readers, whether they are brushing up for a meeting or a cocktail party.