TechMeme is brilliant.
It takes conversations that are buzzing around in private and surfaces them for everyone to participate in. Is it perfect? No, of course not. However, TechMeme’s imperfection is just a magnifacantion of our own imperfections.
In the real world some folks get too much attention relative to their ideas, while others with great ideas sometimes get marginalized. The marginalization could be based on them not being popular, their inability to communicate, or any number of reasons–fair and unfair.
At a party you might have a large group of folks around someone listening to their stories for any number of reasons. Perhaps the person is great story teller or really intelligent. Perhaps they’re rich or powerful, or maybe they’re really good looking.
Is this fair to the ugly duckling in the corner of the room who has a good story to share that they are ignored? Of course not, but TechMeme releases so many of those biases that exist in the real world! Many of the folks on TechMeme have never meet each other…. in fact, many of the folks I know in the industry I found because of TechMeme.
On TechMeme anyone with a great idea can take the top of the homepage. What the haters don’t realize (or like to forget for their own self-serving, self-loathing reasons) is that before Techmeme the only folks with a voice in technology were those with a print publication for the most part.
Smart cats like Walt Mossberg, John Markoff, John Battelle, Jason Pontin, and Steven Levy all had print publications that helped them set the agenda and tone for the entire industry. Great guys and friends of mine all, but they were part of small group of folks with a voice. I know, because I had one too in Silicon Alley Reporter (and I used it!).
TechMeme has leveled that playing field, and truth be told you don’t find most of those names leading the conversations any more. How often does Markoff, Mossberg, or ANY long-term print journalist take over TechMeme? Hardly ever. In fact, no one really “takes over” TechMeme… it just keep chugging along, giving everyone their 15 minutes of fame (maybe six hours if something really catches heat).
In others words, TechMeme has given everyone a chance at the microphone when just ten years ago a dozen folks controlled it. Now, some folks take that chance and others don’t. But to be sure, it’s there for everyone to take.
How anyone could hate on a open system like TechMeme is beyond me. Does the leaderboard change the dynamic? Sure… it’s not a good thing to get folks obsessed with moving up the list, and if the leaderboard does that Gabe should probably play it down. Maybe he could release it once a month (as opposed to in real time).
However, that’s a small issue and Gabe is a smart and fair guy… in fact, he’s kinda brilliant. He just keeps making Techmeme better and better while keeping it spam free. While Technorati and Blogger got clogged with spammers, TechMeme has none… that says a lot.
Now, the fact that I’ve had a top story *twice* in two weeks with my tiny little 10,000 person a day blog speaks volumes for the power of TechMeme. The fact that folks who you’ve never heard of before TechMeme get the top slot 10x more than I do is EVEN MORE TELLING.
So, next time you want to hate on TechMeme think about two things:
- What life was like before we had TechMeme’s meritocracy arrived.
- How you could be on TechMeme at any point in the next 24 hours *IF* you have something intelligent to say.
To the haters of TechMeme I say: nothing. *
[ Note: If you're hater there is nothing anyone can say to make you stop being a hater. Haters are born and then haters die--but they don't change. It's in their DNA to hate and be bitter. It's their lot in life to be miserable. Their inner hate is, in fact, their self-imposed punishment. There is no reason for us add to it. ]