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Techmeme

Techmeme Figuring Out the Blend of Real-Time & Published News.

I had the following post written and in the my blog's queue (which is how I usually write / blog).... and then something happened: Twitter and UberTwitter tussled. And as it broke on Friday, there was a mixture of real-time commentary, news and updates from the companies themselves (namely Twitter / @Support and Bill Gross).

Whether in real-time or as a digest, Techmeme was the best way to follow. Why? Because Techmeme had figured out how to appropriately (and immediately) combine the different news sources and formats... most of which was blurred between news and tweets.

So below is my original, unpublished post (in italics) about Techmeme's effort to better include real-time discussion into the their algorithm (ie Twitter & Quora discussions). And while I was critical of a couple examples - I did expect that:

1) it was the right exercise and product direction

2) Techmeme would figure out the right balance and integration

... and yesterday's developments showed Techmeme's philosophy is right. It is an important direction for news and a balancing act that Techmeme (and others) will solve.

Original post on Techmeme's Twitter integration:

Techmeme has been making an increased effort to move beyond blog posts by integrating Twitter and Quora conversations. Conceptually it is attractive, but figuring out how to cohesively merge the different conversation types is quite difficult.

Techmeme will test their way into the right solution... and I give them credit for integrating Twitter beyond a side-bar widget (most attempts)... but I am not sure examples like this add value to the experience (other than getting to headlines very quickly):

8/12 Techmeme Headlines are Currently Mobile

I find myself talking more and more about "mobile". Entrepreneurs, friends or colleagues frequently ask what interests me; and undoubtedly, we spend a good chunk of that conversation on mobile. I find myself writing more and more about mobile. I have a mobile category on the blog - and it seems to be filling up the most quickly (thanks to my infatuation with the Google Nexus One).

I find my web habits shifting more and more to the mobile web... as it does for so many others. And it is clearly a trend that will continue as devices get stronger, faster and sexier. Take a look at Techmeme this morning and you will notice that the majority of the headlines are mobile related. In fact, eight of twelve headlines are mobile, from Palm to Google's Nexus One to Android and iPhone and so forth. Of course, this is a skewed week due to CES and Google's announcement - but these occurrences are becoming more regular than irregular.

I was at the Crunchies on Friday evening and was struck by:

- the number of companies for which mobile is a key role (from Facebook to Dropbox to Yelp to Animoto, etc) - the number of Google Nexus One phones in the crowd (amazing considering the device is days old) - the way the audience was tweeting and Facebook-ing the *entire* event via their phones - the focus - both in presentation but social discussion - on next-generation web usage (tablets, netbooks, Chrome, etc), which can be thought of as a large extension of the mobile web

Of course, if you are working in mobile or are interested in Polaris and Dogpatch Labs - I would love to chat!

10% of TechCrunch's Traffic Comes from Twitter

Want to know the value of being a "Suggested User" on Twitter? Jason Calacanis offered $250,000 to lock in that slot for two years. Twitter rejected the overture.

But TechCrunch has one of those coveted spots and now has 725,000+ followers - making @Techcrunch one of the largest Twitter users. What does that mean for TechCrunch's traffic? About 10% of TechCrunch's visits now come from Twitter - a staggering number and proof that Calacanis's bid was far from crazy.

Considering that Facebook has become the top referrer for sites like HuffingtonPost, it is interesting that Facebook isn't even in TechCrunch's top five referrals. It is also an indication of both the power of being a top Twitter user and the benefit brands can realize from building their Twitter reputations.

Of course this is also bad news for Google - who is losing share and focus from consumers, brands and marketers to social sources like Twitter and Facebook. Just as companies focused heavily on SEO and internet marketing over the last few years - marketers will be expanding that focus to the distributed web:

Top Sources of Traffic To TechCrunch 1. Google: 32.7% 2. Direct: 22.7% 3. Twitter: 9.7% 4. Digg: 7.4% 5. Techmeme: 2.4% 6. Other: 25.1%

"For us, and I’d argue increasingly for other large Websites as well, Twitter is not just about micro-media. The most powerful Tweets are those which point elsewhere. Or to put it another way, the shortened link may just be the most powerful type of micro-media there is. Those retweeted links are turning Twitter into a social broadcast media that rivals any other on the Web."

Tweetmeme's Meteoric Rise Reveals Twitter's Search Issue

Techmeme has become one my primary navigational sources for daily reading / news (others include email, Google RSS, Facebook, NYTimes, TechCrunch, etc). Twitter isn't yet there because it is simply too noisy to be efficient.

Techmeme solves a specific need: revealing quality, trending content across a variety of blogs and news sources. That same need exists on Twitter... and it can be argued it is both a harder AND more important task (after all, there is more noise and less context).

Perhaps that is why Tweetmeme is surging: it solves an important need for an immensely popular service. And as Twitter grows, Tweetmeme becomes even more important, sources more content and services a larger community. According to Compete, Tweetmeme now reaches 3.6m monthly uniques - a hefty number by any measurement. Equally impressive though is that Tweetmeme's reach represents nearly 20% of Twitter's monthly uniques (19.7m). Furthermore, as Twitter's growth flattened from April to May, Tweetmeme's more than doubled (1.6m to 3.6m):

tweetmeme traffic

Is this to say that Tweetmeme is the perfect service? No.

It is important however because it demonstrates: - a glaring need / opportunity within Twitter (either for third parties or Twitter itself) - the difficulty that finding poses (both algorithmic search and social search)... particularly in Twitter's dynamic world of 140 characters - a clear demand from users (after all, Tweetmeme's monthly uniques are 20% of Twitter's!) - a threat for sites like Digg and Stumbleupon... which Tweetmeme (or Twitter itself) can effectively compete with - an opportunity for Bit.ly - which is sitting on a goldmine of data surrounding referrals and links

tweetmeme-twitter

13 iPhone Apps I Want Developed (Google, ESPN, FriendFeed)

Enter email address to subscribe via email:

1. GMail The improved Gmail iPhone site is just that: improved. But a true GMail iPhone App would allow fuller cusotmizations, run faster, better integrate calendars and contacts... and soon utilize the new push notification systems of iPhone 3.0.

2. Google Reader / RSS I use my iPhone as much for email as I do for content consumption. A Google Reader App would instantly be my starting point for iPhone-based web browsing. It would also increase my activity on Reader - particularly the social aspects (sharing, commenting, etc).

3. AdWords / AdSense Ever been without a computer and needed data associated with AdWords or AdSense? Happens to me all the time... Better yet, the ability to lightly manage campaigns (particularly with AdWords).

4. Facebook Connect + iTunes & App Store This is a pipe dream, but I would love an Apple built app that, via Facebook Connect, created personalized histories and storefronts for iTunes and the App Store. I find both stores increasingly unusable due to the overwhelming inventory... Facebook Connect is the solution.

5. ESPN Fantasy Is there a better use case for an iPhone App? Fantasy sports require on-demand knowledge and management. Fantasy sports players would never put their iPhone down again. 6. FriendFeed Perhaps this would be solved for me by a Google Reader App... but FriendFeed would provide more social functionality and would certainly make me a more loyal, active user.

7. Techmeme I visit Techmeme daily. It is particularly difficult to navigate on the iPhone. A simple iPhone App would make the on-Techmeme / off-Techmeme navigation more efficient. It would also allow for history and search functionality.

8. Starbucks I drink a lot of coffee and use a lot of Starbucks' free wifi. Some sort of location finding application that provided coupons and incentives would be very appetizing.

9. MLB.TV MLB.tv is my favorite product of 2009: amazing HD streaming quality with every conceivable feature request (fantasy tracking, four-game split screens, DVR controls, etc). I would pay an additional $10-$20 to get the streaming on my iPhone (when 3.0 arrives).

10. Google Analytics Makes total sense. All I need is basic statistics.

11. Aardvark I love Aardvark... but my most frequent use-case is when I am away from my computer. With an iPhone App, I would use Aardvark far more routinely and it would be my Q&A service of choice (perhaps replacing Yelp and others on mobile).

12. Wordpress.org To the best of my knowledge, there is not an equivalent of the great Wordpress.com iPhone App for blogs running Wordpress.org... if there is, please let me know. If there isn't, please build it.

13. USPS Tracking The FedEx App is terrific and solves a big need - and with 3.0 it will be even better. I would love the same for USPS (but certainly do not expect this to be built!).

Perez Hilton Asks for Facebook "Boycott" Amidst Content Ownership Controversy

The buzz on a slow Monday of tech news is around Facebook and who owns the content uploaded / created by their users.

Facebook Techmeme PerezHilton

But lost in this is that Perez Hilton covered it early this afternoon... before TechCrunch and linking to Mashable.

Perez Hilton Facebook

Three things strike me about this:

1. Techmeme isn't picking up on Perez Hilton... who may not be a technology blogger - but is more influential than any of the blogs listed in this Techmeme 'discussion'. And perhaps more influential / powerful than all of them combined.

2. Perez's influence - whether it is well informed or not - may well be the kind of pop-coverage that has driven a flurry of bad user feedback. When Perez tells users to "Boycott Facebook" - that is scary and certainly worthy of a well constructed response. Now whether Mark Zuckerberg's letter was a response directly to this (of course not), it is clearly noticed.

3. This really isn't shocking or news... the "complication" of who owns the data is complicated for all major sites and platforms. This was bound to become an issue as Facebook grew in popularity and functionality... and it will pass as well. Users may be upset on the surface - but it will not change their reliance on Facebook or their social network (unless something egregious happens).

How about a Techmeme Jr. (or Techmeme Minor League)?

I love Techmeme. And I've written as much many times before. I also have noted that the Techmeme Headlines are increasingly being written by major blogs and brands. Meanwhile, other bloggers have written that Techmeme should expand their sources to more, lesser-known blogs.

While I'm not sure I agree (there is value in having established, big sources), I do think that the following idea has merit:

Techmeme Junior

Techmeme, Jr.

Think of it like a minor league system for Techmeme where lesser-known blogs are featured and big brands like TechCrunch wouldn't be included (after all, they are included on Techmeme.com). As a minor league system typically works - it would act as a showcase for upcoming talent and, should an author or source grow popular / credible, it can make it's way into a regular on Techmeme.com.

This is powerful for a few reasons:

- The readers who want more depth out of Techmeme now have a avenue - Those readers add a social value to Techmeme and create a community (see YCombinator / Technews for a great example) - Those users would act as talent agents for Techmeme.com - And consequently help Techmeme discover new talent / blogs and grow their sourcing

Personally, I'd probably use Techmeme Jr. more than Techmeme.com because I already read TechCrunch and Engadget. I want to discover new content that is already credible and relevant.

Techmeme Leaderboard

Apple's New Macbook & Macbook Pros... And?

I confess: I wasn't excited going into today's Apple announcement... for a slew of reasons actually: - larger macro issues (economy, election) are far more serious and interesting

- the Apple announcements seem to be available on Techmeme long before Jobs takes the stage (I've called it Gadgetmeme before)

- Apple hasn't wowed me with anything game-changing other than the iPhone App Directory (and we knew that was coming). In fact, ever announcement seems to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

And with the 'major' announcements now past, I actually found the rumors juicier than the result - and the more interesting reading is what the economy's impact on Apple's enhanced line will be: will the new $999 entry point benefit suddenly-cost-conscious buyers (as UBS and PiperJaffy ponder) - or will they be less inclined to purchase evolutionary and still-comparatively-expensive laptops (as I contend).

Introducing the all-new MacBook and MacBook Pro. New design. New features. New technologies. All engineered to standards that don’t even exist yet:

Precision aluminum unibody enclosure. Machined from solid aluminum, the new MacBook and MacBook Pro are thinner, greener, and more stunning than ever.

Ultrathin LED-backlit display. With seamless glass and instant full screen brightness, everything you see is flat-out spectacular.

Advanced NVIDIA graphics processing. NVIDIA delivers faster, more powerful graphics performance to the new MacBook and MacBook Pro.

All-new, smooth glass Multi-Touch trackpad. The spacious new Multi-Touch trackpad gives you even more room for clicking and for Multi-Touch gestures.

Confessions of a Blackberry Addict - I've Moved to the iPhone 3G

About a month ago, I wrote "Why I’m Turning in my Blackberry for an iPhone 3G" and it made its way onto Techmeme. The feedback I've received via comments and emails is generally of individual contention. Like me, people are conflicted about the turning in their trusty blackberries for an iPhone. Just today, a reader turned in his new iPhone 3G for his old blackbbery:

max Says: i just returned my iphone. you cannot search, you cannot copy and paste and if you get 100+ emails a day it drives you mad.

also i travel a lot and the data usage of this phone is crazy. it downloads every attachment first, even when I forward it without reading it… the blackberry has by far the most sophisticated push system out there and it is also push for GMAIL and virtually any other pop application.

If you know me, you know that I am a blackberry addict. I have a Blackberry Curve (the fourth Blackberry version I've owned) and I can type on it nearly as fast as I can on my laptop. I know the interface inside and out. I recognized that the iPhone likely cannot replace (or come close) to my Blackberry in terms of reading and delivering emails... but my attraction it is the new App Platform - which is truly-game changing. And as someone who works in the widget space (Widgetbox), I feel awkward carrying a Blackberry and not being a part of it.

So I bought the iPhone 3G yesterday morning and, after hours of arguing with various AT&T customer support employees, I was able to keep my old phone number. Here is my quick review in rambling format:

- I was immediately struck by how fast the network is. It turns the iPhone into a truly mobile internet browser - and while the iPhone can't keep up with writing content, it makes digesting web content easy and enjoyable. Safari and multi-tabbed browsing are enough to convert me... it killed me that I couldn't open multiple browsers on the Blackberry.

- Apple's App Store is really well done... but they are going to struggle with the shopping / finding experience as inventory continues to grow. Browsing outside of the top 25 apps is just plain difficult.

- The quality of the Apps is *very* impressive. People's ability and willingness to develop innovative apps that are sometimes useful and often useless-but-fun is exactly why I moved to the iPhone. And the apps are only going to improve over time. It's obvious that some companies rushed out content (ie New York Times), but I am certain that the NYT and others will recognize the early success and improve.

- Google NEEDS to get in the game. Their hybrid web-apps for Gtalk and GMail leave me yearning for my Blackberry.

- The much-touted sensor that moves the screen from vertical to wide-screen is very funky and rarely works properly. I assume that will be fixed in a software upgrade.

- Apple's packing is elegant (expected)... but the unwillingness to include a real charger is ludicrous. The charger is cheap and really just a short USB data cable.

- I am struggling with typing, but slowly improving. My biggest complaint is that the UI makes typing symbols cumbersome and confusing. I miss the Blackberry's ability to shift and control each key.

- The contacts UI is poorly done. When you have hundreds of contacts, it's rather painful to scroll through the users / alphabet or bring up the typing box. I really miss the Blackberry's hot-keys - where you can program keys for auto-dialing. I'd love to add contacts as icons to the home screen.

- And Max is dead-on: it's unbelievable that there is no search functionality or copy / pasting. Makes zero sense.