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« Study Identifies How Podcasters Can Make Money | Main | links for 2006-10-11 »

Techmeme is a Blog Country Club

I love Techmeme and its sister sites - really, I do (yes, Gabe, I mean that). But best I can tell it's like an exclusive country club because it excludes the vast majority of the world's bloggers who write in other languages. These include many huge bloggers who write about tech - particularly in Germany. Further, 60% of the world's blogs are not written in English.

Here's a case in point. Yesterday, some 85 bloggers from France, Germany and Italy linked to one of my posts and it only registered on Techmeme once some heavy hitters wrote about it. I could care less if I make Techmeme, truly. I am grateful every time I am included. But I find it incredulous that a blog post about blogs that spurred such in-depth conversation was ignored outside the country club.

This is indicative of a larger trend, perhaps embedded in American culture. We don't care about what the rest of the world is blogging about because it's not in English. That's too bad. This is a global conversation and we're missing a lot of voices. According to an Edelman analysis, the top 10 US blogs linked to each other 3,302 times over the last year. They never link to bloggers in other countries and rarely do they even link to non-US media. Michelle Malkin is the rare standout who does. We'll have a lot more to say about link analysis in the top 100s in the next few weeks.

Language is a barrier, but it can be mitigated. We need better on the fly translation tools. If Bloglines and Google can transcode links into mobile-friendly formats on the fly, we should be able to do the same with translation (even though it comes out sounding like Yoda, as my colleague Björn Hasse reminds me.)

Now in Techmeme's case, a ping server would solve this issue. Then Techmeme could be more inclusive. Right now it feels like a little exclusive club and that's a big turn off.


Reader Comments (7)

I don't know if it's fair to pick on TechMeme as this is a general problem with media. Even though it's very easy to reach an international audience, we still form geographic clusters (whether it's because we gather around sites that share our opinions, or because what a US audience and a UK audience find interesting is different, even though there isn't a language barrier).

Is TechMeme a country club? Yes and no. If there wasn't any filtering then the site would be useless. But they don't have an "Technorati Top 100 only" barrier to the blogs that show up there. I've been on TechMeme several times and I don't even think I'm a blogging C-Lister.
October 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterengtech
Steve, Techmeme is just a news site. Like every news site, it focuses on a particular topic domain. The goal of the site is to remain interesting to its readers, not to attempt a kind of global blogger zeitgeist.

Do you think it's possible for a story to be interesting to dozens of non English bloggers and yet not be the most interesting story for my readers? I think so. Many analogies in mainstream news apply here. There's a reason Starbucks in the US sells the New York Times, but not the International Herald Tribune.

I think you're touching on something valid here. If accounted for properly, non English blogs could be used to make Techmeme better. But only in a way that continues to interest readers. And with that consideration in mind, I suspect assigning even greater prominence to your story the other day would have been the wrong thing.
October 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGabe
Techmeme is useless... It won't pickup anything that's not on "top 10" technorati the way I see it. It's not only non-English blogs that are out of the loop.

October 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterM Freitas
Steve, have you seen Global Voices Online? It shows the global blogosphere.
October 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDimitar Vesselinov
Steve, imagine how frustrating it is for us english speaking Canadians.

October 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Tsiolis
I think that this is less of a tech meme problem then a language and culture problem. It's good to encourage your readers to think out of the box, but the challenges that you touched on are significant and whether we like it or not have been around for ages. I see this issue as less of a criticism of tech meme and more of a compliment to the power of their technology. If anything, this is a real opportunity for someone to come along and create a French, German and Chinese version of techmeme.
October 15, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdavis freeberg
On personal opinion, I find this very helpful.Guys, I have also posted some more relevant info further on this, not sure if you find it useful:
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterocnsss

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