Saturday, February 04, 2006

Attack of the Memeorandum clones

First came the Digg clones, which it seems will soon number over 100. There are Digg clones for Tolkien, hip-hop and wrestling, all with the hallmark big-fonted vote count. Now Memeorandum is the subject of its own round of clustered, automated news aggregators clones, three of which have bobbed up in the last couple of days.

Matthew Chen's Megite got some Arrington love, and there's no question it's a Memeorandum clone. It has the same clustering technique on display. However, Megite does a fantastic job of making us think Memeorandum's design, characterised by many as ugly, isn't that bad after all. Not that Megite has a boring colour scheme or unnecessary graphical elements - even its logo is just text (but Comic Sans, wtf!!). It's just that it expands everything on the page where Memeorandum has optional dropdowns, making the page way longer than it should be (at least to Meme vets). It will take a bit of getting used to, if Matthew sticks with it. As to the quality of results, there are some obvious bugs that it would be uncharitable to point out at this early stage, but I wish Matthew the best of luck in fixing them. I particularly like the Entertainment section, that looks spiffy.

Newroo hasn't launched yet, although they showed that they're not stupid by giving TechCrunch an exclusive screenshot (damn, wish I'd thought of that). The two principals are Brian Norgard, who (if my Google-fu is accurate) is/was president of two other non-dotcom startups called Ferrosity and Function Training, and Dan Gould. Looks like Brian's the business guy and Dan's the coder. As an Australian, I object to them using a kangaroo as part of their logo, especially since their cartoon roo is coloured blue, a shade you would never find in any actual animal of that species. Aren't there any animals native to the San Francisco area they could use instead? I hear the quail is a good local candidate, it's the state bird of California. It's not too late to change the name of the company to Quailnews. There's even a free pun in there about quaaludes, dudes. Edgy!

UPDATE: Oops, I left out Laurence Timms' Chuquet, which I had meant to cover. First things first: sorry, that sienna/ochre/puce colour scheme makes me want to blow chunqs. Another site which makes one pine for the soothing aquamarines of Memeorandum. As for the content, it wins points for having a Japanese language blog in there, and the Flickr wall is interesting as a novelty. Why are there so few snippets of text from the clustered stories? And what's with the "Hotlinks - Level 1" business? All these issues can be easily fixed, and I'm sure will be. Whether "fixed" means "made to conform with Memeorandum" or not I don't know. Gabe has so much set the template for this area that I don't know how others can innovate in design while not alienating users. Most of the Digg clones don't mess with what works.


Anonymous Dan Gould said...

Quailnews? We'll have to think about it...

(Actually, you have far better animals down there. Then again, Americans' understanding of Australia comes from Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan.)

12:39 am, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Laurence said...


Hey, I carefully chose that colour scheme to as to look a bit different from the standard 'white is wonderful' web 2.0 design crowd. Maybe I overdid it...

> Why are there so few snippets of text from the clustered stories?

Umm... even when you expand a story, (hit the '+') there's still too little text? It does depend on the feed to an extent; chuquet shows the first three sentences from each blog that's in the story. If the blog has no text then neither does chuquet.

> And what's with the "Hotlinks - Level 1" business?

Ah, those guys are one of the links-only blogs that are on the chuquet database. They don't add much value so I dare say I'll simply turn the lights out on that particular feed. My API design makes it pretty easy for me to tune out noise like that on the fly.

> Whether "fixed" means "made to conform with Memeorandum" or not I don't know.

Nope. I admire memeorandum big time, it's an excellent site. But I never set out to create a memeorandum clone. What's the value in that? I've got a slightly different path to tread...lots of plans including OPML customisation and foreign language versions of chuquet, amongst others.

That said, it's great to be mentioned in the same blog entries as memeorandum. Gabe rocks.

8:16 am, February 06, 2006  

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