Now and then I see people write about "blogging" when they're really talking about the less than 1% of blogs that find themselves writing about each other in an almost herd-like and insular fashion sometimes. Often they'll all devote many bits and bytes to some trivial topic of the moment related to Google, blogging, Microsoft, patents, or government.

I like to think of this small subset as the "echo chamber" that is occasionally written about in regards to blogging. They're the ones who often appear on echo chamber amplifiers like the Technorati popular blogs, Techmeme, and similar services.

So when someone as bright as Jeff Sandquist says something like this, I have to pause and think about what he really means: has become a critical part of the blogging plumbing and is a site I visit many times throughout the day to keep up with what is happening in the tech industry.

I think that "critical part of the blogging" is a bit of an overstatement, given how few blogs ever appear on TechMeme. But at the same time, I know what he means. In context it's clear that TechMeme is critical to people, like Jeff, who want to keep up with what's happening in the tech industry (or at least what people think about what is apparently happening).

Don't get me wrong. TechMeme is a useful service for many people. I used to be one of them. But I lost interest a while ago when it became far less useful for discovering stuff on that long tail of blogging. Anymore, a small subset of blogs (and increasingly non-blogs) hog much of the attention. That happens to be exactly what I'm not looking for most of the time.

Disclaimer: This blog tends to participate in the echo chamber more than I'd like. I've been trying to fix that in recent months, but it's hard to go cold turkey.

Posted by jzawodn at November 26, 2006 07:15 PM

Reader Comments
# Peter Davis said:

I like your blog much more when you are out of the echo chamber.

on November 26, 2006 07:54 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

So do I. :-)

on November 26, 2006 08:02 PM
# Guillaume Theoret said:

I find that does a pretty good job of catching some of that long tail. It's the only feed I subscribe to that has a big volume of links because a lot of them are interesting and won't be found elsewhere. Digg, reddit, and other such "news-ish" sites I don't bother with because it's always the same. An echo chamber is a very good way to put it.

on November 26, 2006 08:30 PM
# Jeff Sandquist said:

Bright? Thanks Jeremy, from you that means a lot :-> is as you mention a very important service to me and you're right the conversation on it are pretty much the echo chamber.

I still believe in time that it will be shown that Techmeme (and its derivatives like WeSmirch and Memeorandum) are a key part of the blogging infrastructure. I am not sure how else we'll get past feed fatigue without services like this.

I know that because of TechMeme I don't have to watch as many feeds as I did before and it helps me discover new ones too.


on November 26, 2006 08:36 PM
# Gabe said:

It's funny, I think one the most persistent and monotonous echo chambers is the one in which people gripe about echo chambers!

on November 26, 2006 08:50 PM
# Nick Wilson said:

The echo chamber is all about high school 2.0 -- it's a club, and those not in the club talk about the club in the hopes of being included in the club.

I'm also guilty on occasion of pandering to the chamber. And also working on not doing it :)

Love the term "echo chamber amplifiers..."

on November 27, 2006 01:41 AM
# Justin Mason said:

plug plug plug:

a "MeMeme"-style personal link aggregator, based on your own personal network of sources. it's pretty handy to find interesting bits, without having to read too much of the "echo chamber" noise...

on November 27, 2006 05:07 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


High School 2.0 is the best "2.0" I've heard in a while. :-)

on November 27, 2006 07:07 AM
# Eric said:

Techmeme isn't about the long tail of blogging, I think it's quite deliberately set up to show a snapshot of the "fat head" of the so-called "A-list" blogs.

Now, we can debate the merits of the stories and bloggers who appear there, but I will defend Techmeme as being useful to me - it gives me one page I can look at to see the stories of the day and links to bloggers talking about them. As such, I don't feel the need to subscribe to either Techmeme or many of the bloggers who frequently appear there. This frees up my RSS reader to subscribe to more people who *are* on the Long Tail, and generally discuss things that *don't* appear on Techmeme, Memeorandum, etc.

(BTW, I think you do a good job of striking a balance, at least enough that this blog is one I still subscribe to).

on November 27, 2006 10:11 AM
# Joe Hunkins said:

1% seems low to me but I guess it depends on how you lump 'em together.

Confusing matters further is the fact that indexing of blogs generally favors older (and therefore mostly technology focused) blogs and posts. I assume this problem will go away over time as more niches start blogging actively, but I see a lot of long, rich, thoughtful quality posts buried in the dust of A listed blogs (present blog company EXcluded of course) and this adds to the confusion when people generalize about how blogging is too superficial/tech centered/uninformed/crappy.

on November 29, 2006 02:31 PM
# Anil said:

Can't agree enough -- it was focusing on that stuff that almost made me not love blogging. Getting to talk to regular people again, and read the kind of personal blogs that I've seen popping up on places like Vox has really done a lot to get me excited about blogging again. Regular bloggers FTW.

on November 29, 2006 09:58 PM
# Dmedia said:

Ironic .. just last night I was having a conversation with someone about how "high schoolish" blogs can be .. the nerds over there, the jocks over there .. can't we all just get along ;)

on December 5, 2006 09:04 PM
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