Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ever wondered how Techmeme works ?

Well, I always used to wonder about the relevance of technology news that Techmeme aggregates. I was confident that I could google and find out how it actually works.

I had all the time today (in fact I explored the Techmeme page completly to find Techmeme River about which I have explained in my previous post). So I thought let me first google my query about "Techmeme". Well.. no relavant web pages to explain how techmeme works. I told myself that I had to give a better query and so I tried "Techmeme Internals". No luck this time as well. But hey wait.. what a stupid query was that. I am not searching for some operating system internals (But I was hoping that the algorithm behind Techmeme should be something as complex as an OS). Never mind and now I searched for "About Techmeme". Nope.. No luck. And finally I knew where I could find more information about Techmeme's working and so I searched Wikipedia for Techmeme. I did find a link I guess... but the page was empty. To my surprise and dismay I could not find any relevant web page that explained how exactly Techmeme works.

Now, my quest to find more about Techmeme became personal (it was hurting my ego and my ability to find anything on the web is being questioned) and so this time I din't want to trust Google's ability to give me search results by reading my mind and by interpreting one or two words that I typed. So this time I typed in a better query- "How Techmeme work" and this time I found an interview in wired.com of Gabe Rivera who is supposedly the inventor of Techmeme giving some details about how Techmeme works.

Gabe Rivera was very cautious about leaking out any information about how Techmeme works. The only information (or rather confirmation) that he told was that the list of sites it monitors is generated automatically. But never told how it is done.

Somewhere in this interview, Wired News was referring to Rivera's blog site for one of the questions and Ahaa.. so let me check his blog. But wait.. where is this blog. No problem.. I instantly turned towards our universal knowledge base - you guessed it right - Google and searched for "Gabe Rivera" and the first result was http://blog.memeorandum.com/. Clicking this actually redirected me to http://news.techmeme.com/. This site is supposed to be the official news/blog site updating us about what's happening at Techmeme.

As I scrolled down the blog/news about Techmeme, I got my answer to how Techmeme works in this message that was posted yesterday (Oct 1, 2007). This message/news was posted as if in anticipation of my curiosity about how Techmeme works. One day earlier and I still wouldn't have known exactly how Techmeme works.

This is an interesting post and is must-read for anyone curious to know about how Techmeme works. To tell you in short as to what this post says, Techmeme has released a web page called Techmeme Letterboard which actually gives the list of Top 100 sources from which Techmeme picks its news. And these sources are sorted with top-ranked sites on the top. Rivera says that the ranking is based on the presence of this web site. What it essentially means is that the number of external links to one particular web site would increase its presence and in turn its ranking in Techmeme.

Gabe Rivera also explains that he has released this list of sources now (after all these years) is because he was in a comfortable state to tackle any criticism that might arise about the method used to pick up these sources for news and information.

This list is going to be updated quite frequently (on a daily or hourly basis) and Gabe encourages people to use it as they wish.

Great.. I know to some extent as to how exactly this site works. And at least I know the list of sources from which the news and information is getting picked up.

Now thinking about how Techmeme picks most of the popular sources for information, would it be possible for users to build something like their personal Techmeme where she/he adds his source of information and chooses how to present this information to the rest of the world. Its a matter of time before this becomes a reality especially with services like Google Reader where you can share topics of your interest and with Google Shared Stuff.

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