The Techmeme Disaster

Last night I was reading “Cult of the Amateur.” The book discusses how truth is being redefined by the new social technologies that we use daily. Early on in the book the author, Andrew Keen states “it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.”

If you want more details behind the debate, check out the video “The Truth According to Wikipedia.” Much of what is argued make a lot of sense but to say that I have been completely convinced of Andrew Keen’s argument would be inaccurate. There is a valid point made though. At one point editors determined what truth was. You had to get Wired magazine to find out the truth about Technology. Today, Techcrunch and Techmeme are defining what is technology.

The news is now frequently defined by mob mentality and that’s what Techmeme has become. Last night, the big technology news was that Facebook had created a new feature to enable users to share their links, Flickr and Picasa photos and Yelp! reviews. Yes world, today I bookmarked 9 articles via Let’s be honest, most of these things don’t matter but when 20 influential people say it does … it does.

Andrew Keen is accurate when he states that the loudest and most opinionated individuals survive. Honestly Andrew Keen may be one of the most opinionated individuals around but he does make a good point. I am a product of this model. I was able to produce a large volume of posts on Facebook and suddenly AllFacebook became the largest blog on Facebook and was at one point one of the top 50 blogs on Techmeme.

What suddenly stuck with me last night was that those individuals at the top of Techmeme are frequently controlling the conversation. Take a look at the Techmeme leaderboard and you’ll see who are the top creators of the conversation that has taken place. The media has become the conversation and the leaders on the Techmeme leaderboard are those that are currently guiding the discussion. Is this wrong? Not necessarily but what if you don’t want to be part of the technology conversation?

Right now you need to use Twitter, Facebook and other resources to determine what other conversation is out there but so far technology, politics and gossip are the primary categories that have benefited (or suffered depending on your perspective) from memefication (I just made up that word). The bottom line is that we want to have interesting stories aggregated around different content and is a perfect example of aggregating diverse information.

The only problem is that it requires everybody “mixxing” their content rather than tracking what people are talking about. Enough of my written diarrhea. My main point here is that the Techmeme effect that we have seen take place over the past couple year or two can only be sustained for so long. People will get tired of “conversing” with the same people and go elsewhere. That’s why there has been so much discussion recently (as there was yesterday) about new alternatives.

Will everybody leave? Not necessarily but once somebody comes close to duplicating the Techmeme technology I could see it rapidly used for other conversations with other participants. Do you think the echo chamber can be defeated? Perhaps my solution of creating more echo chambers doesn’t make as much sense.