River of Meme-O-Randum?

I just had one of those AHA moments, when something clicked into place, and the only question is how to share the idea, because this is one that’s just begging to be shared.

So I called Scoble, to make sure I wasn’t out of my mind, and he got excited and said “You’re onto something.” Here’s the thing. I figured out why I’m bored with Meme-O-Randum, and what I really want, and why.

The seed of the idea

I noticed something the other day about how I read Meme-O-Randum. I look in the upper-right corner first, to find the new stuff. Duh. Why did it take me a few months to figure this out. The left column, the big long one, the one that Gabe thinks I’m most interested in, is actually totally boring. The stories are always the same. Maybe one or two stories enter the list every hour.

But over in my aggregator, I get hundreds of new stories every hour. Hundreds. Guess which is more interesting. By a mile. By a thousand miles. Even though the aggregator is dumb, it just shows me the new stuff in the feeds I’m subscribed to, and Meme-O-Randum is smart, it knows what’s relevant, my aggregator gives me more new thought-stimulating stuff every time I look. Meme-O-Randum hasn’t been rewarding me for my attention for quite some time. So what do I want? Read the title of this post. I want the best of both worlds.

Show me the new stuff

On Wednesday night I talked about the magic that was weblogs.com in 1999, 2000 and 2001, when the weblog world was small, and you could get a handful of new pointers and visit the newly-updated blogs, every hour, and find something interesting on many of them.

Today I want my meme-tracker to get less discriminating. I don’t want to only see the stories that most people are interested in, I want interesting stories. More offbeat stuff. And I want much more than what I’m getting.

I want the right column to move into the middle, and get rid of what’s in the left column. Once a day is enough to know what the top stories are. That’s why newspapers evolved that way because when you get a newspaper everything in it is new. It’s not suited to a news-oriented website that you might visit twelve or twenty times a day.

I’m seeing the same top stories over and over and over. That’s why (according to my theory) Scoble went back to his aggregator. That’s why the part of the blogosphere that’s paying attention to Meme-O-Randum is stagnating and flaming, because of the strange 20th-century type of ladder that the left column of Meme-O-Randum is.

Flatten it out, get less picky, turn the ladder into a river, and I bet some of the magic comes back. I’m not sure it’s right, but the only way to find out is to try it.

Postscript #1

I didn’t explain it well enough, because I’m getting emails saying that people already have this and they don’t. Here is a list of some of the features.

1. Reverse-chronologic order. Every item gets a shot at being the top item.

2. Not grouped by which site they came from or which type of site they came from.

3. The relevance algorithm gets looser so that more items make the grade.

Postscript #2

About the left-column, if you like it you can keep it. However, I would only go there a few times during the day, while I would look at the River of Memes many times during the day. Would all the discussion items appear in the river? Of course they would.

Have a nice day. :-)

18 responses to this post.

  1. I like clean blogs like this is great content. “Meme-O-Randum” – that’s good. Very good. I changed the name of my bloggie today from “Welcome to Wallyworld” to “You are what you bleat”….cheers, malcolm lambe, paris

    http://www.welcometowallyworld.com

    Talking about “Dancing to the Techno (rati) beat” today. Check it out.

    Reply

  2. Sorry…left off the “River”. Maybe you can whack it in. Thanks.

    Reply

  3. Posted by pwb on March 10, 2006 at 10:19 am

    I think this comment really nails it: “Once a day is enough to know what the top stories are.”

    Reply

  4. maybe one should need RSS feed for something like fortyface.com. I have asked Philipp for this function and I just may need to revist this idea too.

    Its an agregation over the river of news which is silo’fied across a single community. (fortyfaces) which holds over 241 bloggers. So its becomes a single source feed via RSS !

    Whoever joins that silo will be aggregated as a single new item in the rss feed !! Needless to say a place like fortyfaces, is where underneath growth is sustained by the community of participation.

    I dunna just throwing thoughts around here….

    Reply

  5. basically you want a personal meme engine.

    i’ve been chanting this for what seems like ages.

    but i like where you are going with you’re approach, you not only want a meme for the industry, but a meme for your feeds you fancy, and then you combine them

    sort of like what newsvine is doing by giving you popular news by major online sites, aka New York Times, while mixing it up with user submitted links.

    Sounds like a great combination. Now the difficult part, implementing it.

    Gabe doesn’t want to open source his meme engine, and it’s a damn shame.

    Reply

  6. […] River of Meme-O-Randum: “I just had one of those AHA moments, when something clicked into place, and the only question is how to share the idea, because this is one that’s just begging to be shared.”  […]

    Reply

  7. Dude. You’ve GOT it. We’re totally on the same page now :)

    I think at least.

    This is essentially what I’m trying to do with personalization. The personalized filter in Tailrank allows you to upload your OPML and then get a “river of news” style aggregator for *your* feeds which ONLY shows the hotest posts among that set.

    You can even take that RSS feed and add it BACK into your aggregator so you don’t have to keep coming back to Tailrank.

    Now one area I think where we may differ is whether you want this for ALL memes in the system. I def wouldn’t have a problem implementing this. I think I could add it to the GUI if you’re interested.

    Anyway……… If this is what you want I think I can get it integrated fairly quickly.

    Onward!

    Kevin

    Reply

  8. Dave: is your argument presentation, content or both? How do you define ‘interesting?’ Isn’t that a function of the audience and if so then a function of what interests those people? Example: I don’t care about consumer, I care about enterprise. Doesn’t appear on tech.memeorandum. Different type of audience with different ‘numbers’ at this point in time. What say you?

    Reply

  9. Not making an argument, it’s a feature request from a user. I don’t define interesting, the meme-tracker does. I know the programmers all want to let you customize that but I can’t find the time to customize things that really matter to me, so to begin with I want one-size-fits all. Who knows what needs customization until you use it for a while. This thing doesn’t even exist yet.

    Reply

  10. That’s why I visit Digg several times a day but Memeorandum only once every couple of days. What I’d really like to see is a Digg-type site that incorporated blogs as well as the regular internet, only without the process of “submitting” a site with an accompanying description. A simple addition to the right-click menu of the browser to vote for the site would be sufficient. You could read through your feeds and vote for the ones you like, then when you’ve read through them all you could check that site to see what other people have found that is interesting. You could even have feeds for certain people’s picks, sorta like Scoble’s link blog used to be except easier to configure and maintain and extended to the blog-reading community.

    Reply

  11. what i hear dave saying that i agree with is a quantity issue. memeorandum has say 10-20 clustered posts about GEMAYA/google, and what he wants is more : More quantity, more quality, more ‘offbeat’ as he said, more ‘new’ etc… and his aggregator as he said is delivered hundred per hour. So if I rephrased Dave’s problem it is : How can I get more new posts per hour than my aggregator gives me that are interesting to me ?

    Reply

  12. Thanks for the suggestion Dave, and thanks to all the commenters as well. I had something like this in fact with Memeorandum 1.0 (pre-Sept. 12 2005), a “newest first” page. It wasn’t nearly as popular as the “newspaper” view page.

    The left column is really important because it allows you to watch clusters grow and evolve. It’s not just a dead newspaper metaphor applied to a web page. The growth and evolution part is very new, and IMO valuable. It’s a very useful kind of news visualization.

    Still, a blog view / river view / newest first view is a good feature to have, and sure, I’d like to have it. Won’t be a breakout feature though, I think.

    Final suggestion: hey everybody, continue to read or scan your favorite feeds. If you read only tech.memeorandum or any “meme tracker”, you’re in for some serious stagnation. :)

    Reply

  13. Dave have you seen Digg Spy? It let’s you watch the River of news in real time. No page reloading. It’s fascinating.

    http://www.digg.com/spy

    Micah

    Reply

  14. This thing doesn’t even exist yet.

    I thought you were asking for tailrank.

    Reply

  15. So, maybe what people want is to know when a new meme arrives, more so than the flowering of that meme. Then perhaps they’ll choose a tag-to-track action if they have enough interest.

    If every single blog or news event passed through this stream, that would be overkill – you need ‘duplicate suppression’. Maybe a ‘similarity service’ could accept the id of the post and return a measure of how new it is – like a Bloom filter based on the meaning of the post (a Bloom filter can quickly say ‘nope, never seen it’ or ‘probably seen it, not quite sure’).

    Reply

  16. Fortunately, if you want something different from what Memeorandum offers, you can find it or even build it.

    The critical phrase in the comment for me is “It’s not suited to a news-oriented website that you might visit twelve or twenty times a day.” Fine, perhaps that’s not the market it seeks to satisfy, perhaps its intended for the two to three times a day visitor, who I suspect is more numerous than the Winer/Scoble use case.

    The best of both worlds is easily available, and there many more than two worlds, you can choose more than Memeorandum to satisfy whatever requirements you have.

    As Gabe’s response attests, the feedback is welcome, and no doubt well intentioned, but I think diversity and choice over a range of options is the Internet’s strength and optimum is a very individual thing that, if important to you, you can mashup out of the available offerings.

    Reply

  17. Posted by isb on March 11, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    I think there are two different problems here: First is that memeorandum has a “cluster-size” threshold so that it only captures “high volume” conversations from across the blogosphere. I am sure relaxing the threshold will give more “offbeat” results.

    The second (and more important) problem arises when you fix the first problem – Do you want to read every *offbeat* conversation in the blogosphere? Perhaps not and I guess that’s where personalization based on your OPML list comes in.

    Reply

  18. Heh. You want the new reBlogger, you just don’t know it yet. Hang on, we’re coding as fast as we can! http://reblogger.wordpress.com/2006/03/10/dave-kinda-gets-it/

    Reply

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