Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A handful of stuff

1. Gareth Butler of the BBC left a comment on last October's entry Who is pmeme's Gareth Butler? saying he was not pmeme's Gareth Butler, but that he did write a book about politics. That just leaves the author of this article about freelancing as the only other candidate as to the identity of Mr Butler. The pmeme site seems not to have changed or improved at all in the intervening ten weeks since I first wrote about it: the design hasn't changed, there are no new features, and the FAQ/about pages are still just placeholders. The scripts are evidently still running because it has fresh content, but it looks as dead as Findory at the moment.

2. Speaking of which, a couple more interesting posts on the sunsetting of Findory. Over at Yoick, Chris Saad tried to use Findory's demise as an argument for his project Touchstone by tying the two together as parts of the "attention economy". Yaron Galai over at Web X.0 makes an excellent point about this attention falderol:

I bet many people (me included) would love to sit around and consume content on Findory (or Digg, etc), but just don't have the time to do so... Findory required me to spend more of my scarce attention to use it. What I need is a service that has 'net positive attention emissions'... A service that saves me time rather than consumes more of it.

Again, Yaron has his own barrow to push with his venture outbrain, but he does a good job highlighting what is I think is an adversarial relationship between the attention economy, if such a thing exists, and the "wisdom of crowds" technique. It's the difference between believing that you are the font of all wisdom, or admitting that thousands of other people can think better collectively than you. It's solipsism versus solidarity. Sociopathy versus socialisation. This tension is why the "personalised memetracker" of the kind that Matthew Chen is experimenting with is so problematic in a conceptual sense: how can you take the received wisdom of the mob and reconcile it with your own "special" biases and prejudices? Pramit Singh probes the same area and concludes that it was just a matter of advertising and user support, but I think the problem is more structural.

3. On Matthew, he was interviewed by Search Engine Journal and let slip a few new facts amongst all the typical handwaving and obfuscation that seems necessary to not let your competitors know what you're really up to :D . Evidently he has "several site sponsors in talks", and I wish him luck with them. It will be interesting to see if Matthew decides to give them featured blog post placement, as Gabe Rivera pioneered with Techmeme and Memeorandum, or whether the advertisers are more interested in straight display and/or rich media ads.

4. And finally, another Y Combinator clone called TechStars was launched by Brad Feld in Boulder, Colorado. One day, I'll do the same in .au. Ben Barren can play good cop and I'll be bad cop. That's the plan, anyway.


Blogger Chris said...

Hi Paul, Thanks for the mention of Touchstone. Just to clarify though - I was not using the sad Findory news to justify anything - I was asked by Randal (Yoik Author) to compare/contrast Touchstone to Findory so I answered.

I have a great respect for Greg and his work on Findory and I think it's a shame to let it fade away.

11:30 pm, January 18, 2007  

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