Sometimes I feel like either the lone voice of reason in the wilderness or, alternatively, the one guy who just “doesn’t get it” with some of the more popular ‘net sites, but I have to say that the more I view Memeorandum, the more I dislike it.
It’s important to remind you that Larry Page’s big innovation in Web search was that pages that had more inbound links were the best, most authoritative matches for a given search, thus Google was born.
Memeorandum takes the logical next step, calculating the most “relevant” discussions in the Blogosphere by tracking a few thousand of the most popular weblogs in a given segment and analyzing what news articles or blog entries are receiving the most inbound links at any given time.
But the whole premise of the site is critically flawed.
The fundamental problem should be obvious: Google started us down this path with its turbocharged popularity contest where the page with the most votes wins, and now Memeorandum creator Gabe Rivera has added an amplifier to the echo-chamber of the blogosphere with his site, another popularity contest in the already skewed world of blogs and bloggers.
Memeorandum faces this problem at two levels: the decision of which weblogs to track (and yes, The Intuitive Life is on the list) and the core premise that the more bloggers who are pointing to an article, the more “relevant” or important it must be.
There just seems to be something wrong with this approach.
I keep thinking of the many, many times in life that the most popular, the most “relevant” (in this context, I believe they’re synonymous) isn’t the best. We can all name technological examples, but there are examples in every walk of life, from most popular restaurant (can you say “McDonalds”?) to most popular fashions (seen how pre-teen girls dress lately?), most popular politicians (’nuff said about that) to most popular books (versus those that are actually thoughtful and well written).
So would McDonald’s be the most “relevant” restaurant because more people “vote” for it (e.g., eat there) than a local bistro? I can’t imagine that anyone reading this would try to therefore suggest that McDonald’s is the best or most relevant restaurant in the world of gastronomy, even if it is the most popular?!
I will admit that trying to automatically identify the “best” or “most important” in a given segment is incredibly difficult, but an entire news analysis system based on popularity, on incoming links, isn’t a step in the right direction, it’s a step in the wrong direction: What I want to see are sites that help me identify those stories that I otherwise wouldn’t encounter through the regular media (both blogs and journalists).
But from the popular Dodge Interview with Gabe Rivera to the accolades from the likes of Pete Cashmore, Stowe Boyd, Om Malik and tireless promoter Robert Scoble, I’m unquestionably in the minority with my viewpoint here.
Is the underlying concept of Memeorandum — that the more inbound links a news article or blog entry garners, the more “relevant” it is to the community — a good idea or the latest incarnation of a popularity competition, with all the problems that suggests?
What’s your opinion?