Comparing new TailRank/DiggTech/TechMeme to Google Reader

Today Kevin Burton released a new TailRank. Last week I asked the audience at ConvergeSouth how many people even knew about TechMeme. Very few hands went up.

That totally shocked me. So, thought it was time to look at the memetrackers again since so few people in the world know about them.

These are sites where you go to learn the latest news in the tech world.

First, there are two approaches to reading tech blogs: one, you can read a bunch of feeds like I do with Google Reader. That takes a couple of hours even if you’re really fast like I am at hitting “J” “J” “J” (the “J” key moves to the next post).

But, since I just read my 200 tech feeds and posted a bunch of stuff that had been posted in the past 24 hours I thought it’d be interesting to see how that compared to the new TailRank and TechMeme.

I probably should have included Slashdot and GoogleNews/Tech in this post too, but I got more than 500 emails waiting for me to answer and tons of videos to encode.

Here’s my non-scientific observations (you should do your own homework and decide which site is best for you on your own):

HEADLINE DENSITY

Let’s start with my favorite TechMeme. I loaded all three at the same time on my brand new Apple MacPro and 30 inch screen — this lets me get all three pages side-by-side for comparisons. TechMeme has 32 headlines (17 of which are top level) and three paid advertising headlines.

TailRank only gets 10 top-level headlines (to get more you gotta click “next” which we’ve learned through eye track research that most users will never do, but what I’m really looking at here is information density, and on that point TechMeme wins by a long shot).

Digg/Tech has 15 top-level headlines.

TechMeme wins this one.

UPDATE: I went back and looked at TailRank again. I totally missed the headlines over on the right side of the page. Those looked like ads to me, or a blogroll. Shows how deep my avoidance of traditional advertising is. Anyway, even after noticing them, they aren’t as useful cause there’s no descriptive text. For instance here’s one headline “When it Doubt, Blame CREW.” What the hell is that supposed to mean? Am I really supposed to click on that to learn more? Sorry, I won’t. TechMeme’s headlines at the bottom of the page, though, are almost as useless but they have a little more info which makes them easier to deal with (I can see who is linking to them, which I can use to judge if a headline is really going to be interesting to me). Either way, though, TechMeme wins this one, even after considering the other headlines on the page.

NEWSWORTHINESS OF TOP HEADLINES

This one will be subjective. I’m biased toward more big-paper news. Things like Google buying YouTube. So, let’s look.

TechMeme: has headlines from Richard Edelman (only bloggers really care about ethics of other bloggers, so this is a minus for TechMeme). A report from the New York Times on a reporter who is covering Second Life (snore, is this really news?) A TechCrunch article on Sequoia investing $5 million in Sugar Publishing (news!!) An article in BusinessWeek about YouTube vs. MySpace (lots of people are talking about this, people talked to me about this at every stop so far today). A Read/Write Web post about Moveable Type Enterprise launching (news!!) A Daily Mall article on home entertainment (mushy). A Wired article about a MySpace predator getting caught (news!!) A New York Times article about social software (mushy). AT&T making network neutrality concessions (news!!)

Anyway, to shorten this up, let’s count the news headlines: 17 interest me, out of 32 headlines. Pretty good.

Let’s look at TailRank. MySpace predator story. That’s not the most important thing today, methinks. But it counts. The mushy NYT article on social software. Walmart/Edelman thing, but not as authoritative as TechMeme, that linked to the latest Richard Edelman post. Red iPod story (mushy and old, was yesterday’s news); Another post about Walmart/Edelman thing, albeit older; A personal blog post about Macs sucking (interesting, and I’ll count that as news, although TechMeme has the same kind of post, but lower which is where I think it belongs). Moveable Type enterprise story. Cool. An NYT story about Chinese version of Wikipedia. News. TechMeme had that too, but lower. YouTube vs. MySpace. Yeah, news. Om’s story about Google making $2 billion in increased stock valuation. Yeah, news.

The percentage of articles is higher on TailRank, but unfortunately the quantity wins out, I see TechMeme the winner here too.

How about Digg? Digg is a completely different animal. Every headline is pretty interesting, but has much more niche-oriented news (top link right now, for instance is “useful error pages for Firefox”).

Comparing Digg with TechMeme is pretty difficult cause they do very different things. I couldn’t live without either of them, which brings me to the next section.

SMALL STORIES/COMPLETENESS OF PICTURE

Now, here, obviously, is where reading your own feeds every night will definitely win. In the past two hours I’ve posted about 48 items. Each hand picked from hundreds of items that crossed my screen. A good cross-section of items, including Google Ajax Video Bar, and other fun weird small things (and big things too). To be fair, the front page of my feed only shows nine, though. You gotta click the link at the bottom of the page to see more. Just as tedious as it was on TailRank, but both experiences are better if you subscribe.

Digg, however, wins this game. Digg gets the weirdest newest stuff onto the page. The downside of the Digg page is that much of it is noise to me, cause I don’t care about a lot of the items that get on Digg. For instance, there right now is a 1992 video of Steve Jobs showing off NeXTSTEP. Please, that’s noise for someone who is busy and just wants to know the top headlines of the day. But, to my son, who is a Steve Jobs love child, that’s probably going to be his favorite headline.

CONCLUSION

I’m sticking with TechMeme for my first “must read” page in the morning. Then I’ll go to Digg. Then to my feeds. Then to TailRank.

How about you? Which one do you like the most and why?

POSTSCRIPT: Now that I’ve trashed TailRank, I want to praise it. The memetracker feature is cool and TailRank has a broader range of news than TechMeme. Either way, it’s good to see the competition between these sites.

Comments

  1. There’s just too much going on with TailRank, and it’s hard for me to find good content. The UI is really bad. He should take some tips from Gabe at Techmeme. I don’t use tailrank now, nor will I ever. I’ll just stick with good ole Google news.

  2. There’s just too much going on with TailRank, and it’s hard for me to find good content. The UI is really bad. He should take some tips from Gabe at Techmeme. I don’t use tailrank now, nor will I ever. I’ll just stick with good ole Google news.

  3. Your son is a “Steve Jobs love child”?

    If true, is your wife alright with your telling everybody on the blog? And if she is, then where is the tell-all book?

    Many Mac-heads would by the first edition without hesitation!

  4. Your son is a “Steve Jobs love child”?

    If true, is your wife alright with your telling everybody on the blog? And if she is, then where is the tell-all book?

    Many Mac-heads would by the first edition without hesitation!

  5. Given you have a MacPro with a 30-inch monitor, there’s probably an adoptee application list a mile long. Lucky boy.

    And yes… we knew it was a metaphor.

    BTW – We Bay Area fans are positively giddy you’re here “with us”… You belong. Welcome home.

  6. Given you have a MacPro with a 30-inch monitor, there’s probably an adoptee application list a mile long. Lucky boy.

    And yes… we knew it was a metaphor.

    BTW – We Bay Area fans are positively giddy you’re here “with us”… You belong. Welcome home.

  7. We match on the top two… I’m currently refreshing TechMeme most, then Digg (most frequently screened for Adobe items, then for text), and then running searches on a variety of terms in a variety of blogsearch engines, and then hitting bookmark’d lists of relevant bloggers.

    That’s for general sources. The most frequent refreshes I do are on MXNA, where 900 trusted bloggers bring together Adobe-relevant links fastest… group mind at work.

  8. We match on the top two… I’m currently refreshing TechMeme most, then Digg (most frequently screened for Adobe items, then for text), and then running searches on a variety of terms in a variety of blogsearch engines, and then hitting bookmark’d lists of relevant bloggers.

    That’s for general sources. The most frequent refreshes I do are on MXNA, where 900 trusted bloggers bring together Adobe-relevant links fastest… group mind at work.

  9. It’s really not a fair comparison. Techmeme only covers bloggers that are ‘big time’ so to look there over TailRank you would be missing the bulk of the blogosphere and only getting the opin of the ‘elite’ bloggers which is probably not representative.

    It’s much easier to be featured on TailRank, so I think it’s a little less SV-focused. I sub to both of the feeds and then feed them into my sidebar (used to do it on Google desktop or Konfabulator, now I use the Vista sidebar). Subbing to them in a traditional reader isn’t fresh enough.

    Those sidebar feeds for me are both of these, digg, metafilter, valleywag, a handful of forums and (embarrasingly) fark. I get a number of scoops from these places.

  10. It’s really not a fair comparison. Techmeme only covers bloggers that are ‘big time’ so to look there over TailRank you would be missing the bulk of the blogosphere and only getting the opin of the ‘elite’ bloggers which is probably not representative.

    It’s much easier to be featured on TailRank, so I think it’s a little less SV-focused. I sub to both of the feeds and then feed them into my sidebar (used to do it on Google desktop or Konfabulator, now I use the Vista sidebar). Subbing to them in a traditional reader isn’t fresh enough.

    Those sidebar feeds for me are both of these, digg, metafilter, valleywag, a handful of forums and (embarrasingly) fark. I get a number of scoops from these places.

  11. Robert,
    I dropped DIGG from my Feed Reader. Way too much noise. TechMeme is ok – but I find it just as easy to read you, Om, Arrington, Doc and a few others to get good coverage of things I’m going to be interested in – from people I trust.

  12. Robert,
    I dropped DIGG from my Feed Reader. Way too much noise. TechMeme is ok – but I find it just as easy to read you, Om, Arrington, Doc and a few others to get good coverage of things I’m going to be interested in – from people I trust.

  13. I read you and Tech Meme and often Arrington. But I also read non-tech stuff like the Huffington Post, so I don’t think I count as hard core. Google Reader has really simplified my life. I like things outside of Silicon Vally :-)

  14. I read you and Tech Meme and often Arrington. But I also read non-tech stuff like the Huffington Post, so I don’t think I count as hard core. Google Reader has really simplified my life. I like things outside of Silicon Vally :-)

  15. Robyn: >>Techmeme only covers bloggers that are ‘big time’ so to look there over TailRank you would be missing the bulk of the blogosphere and only getting the opin of the ‘elite’ bloggers which is probably not representative.

    That’s absolutely NOT true. I just counted the various blogs that are linked to on TechMeme. About 25% are people I don’t know at all.

    But, yeah, I do like that it only displays high-quality links. If I want to read everyone, then reading through my feeds is the way to go. Often I just have one or two minutes to catch up with what’s going on in the blogs. TechMeme has the lowest noise and highest signal out there.

  16. Robyn: >>Techmeme only covers bloggers that are ‘big time’ so to look there over TailRank you would be missing the bulk of the blogosphere and only getting the opin of the ‘elite’ bloggers which is probably not representative.

    That’s absolutely NOT true. I just counted the various blogs that are linked to on TechMeme. About 25% are people I don’t know at all.

    But, yeah, I do like that it only displays high-quality links. If I want to read everyone, then reading through my feeds is the way to go. Often I just have one or two minutes to catch up with what’s going on in the blogs. TechMeme has the lowest noise and highest signal out there.

  17. Paul: that’s cause 90% of the really interesting stuff in the tech industry happens either inside Silicon Valley or because of an investment by someone who lives in Silicon Valley.

    I’ve traveled all over the world and, sorry, no place else even holds a candle. I’d expect ANY news service who really covers tech to be very Silicon Valley centric. If it weren’t that’d tell me that that news source simply isn’t very complete.

    But, even looking further, I totally disagree with your thesis. Up there today I see Business Week and New York Times reports. Those aren’t brands that operate out of Silly Valley.

  18. Paul: that’s cause 90% of the really interesting stuff in the tech industry happens either inside Silicon Valley or because of an investment by someone who lives in Silicon Valley.

    I’ve traveled all over the world and, sorry, no place else even holds a candle. I’d expect ANY news service who really covers tech to be very Silicon Valley centric. If it weren’t that’d tell me that that news source simply isn’t very complete.

    But, even looking further, I totally disagree with your thesis. Up there today I see Business Week and New York Times reports. Those aren’t brands that operate out of Silly Valley.

  19. Google Reader Team: If you’re reading this.

    Give me a way to import everything from my Google Homepage into Google Reader.

    I’m too lazy to do it myself, and it’s stopping me from switching..

  20. Google Reader Team: If you’re reading this.

    Give me a way to import everything from my Google Homepage into Google Reader.

    I’m too lazy to do it myself, and it’s stopping me from switching..

  21. >that’s cause 90% of the really interesting stuff in >the tech industry happens either inside Silicon Valley >or because of an investment by someone who lives in >Silicon Valley.

    That’s why people outside of SV have a laugh when reading this kind of stuff.
    Investment? Yep, we saw it 7 years ago and we are coming to that point again. At least – the traffic on 85, 87, 101 and 280 will be light again…

  22. >that’s cause 90% of the really interesting stuff in >the tech industry happens either inside Silicon Valley >or because of an investment by someone who lives in >Silicon Valley.

    That’s why people outside of SV have a laugh when reading this kind of stuff.
    Investment? Yep, we saw it 7 years ago and we are coming to that point again. At least – the traffic on 85, 87, 101 and 280 will be light again…

  23. Paul: I’ve been to most of those places. They simply don’t compare COMBINED with what’s going on in Silicon Valley. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Microsoft is one, very large and important company, but Silicon Valley is thousands of companies. And even in Microsoft land, some of the coolest stuff happens down in its offices in Silicon Valley and SF (Jim Gray and Gordon Bell, for instance, work for Microsoft in SF).

  24. Paul: I’ve been to most of those places. They simply don’t compare COMBINED with what’s going on in Silicon Valley. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Microsoft is one, very large and important company, but Silicon Valley is thousands of companies. And even in Microsoft land, some of the coolest stuff happens down in its offices in Silicon Valley and SF (Jim Gray and Gordon Bell, for instance, work for Microsoft in SF).

  25. Jack: >>At least – the traffic on 85, 87, 101 and 280 will be light again…

    I drive 280 every day. It’s pretty light now. Many of the workers have been outsourced to other, lower-cost, communities.

    This demonstrates that you can’t talk about facts without pissing people off and/or looking like an arrogant asshole. Oh well.

  26. Jack: >>At least – the traffic on 85, 87, 101 and 280 will be light again…

    I drive 280 every day. It’s pretty light now. Many of the workers have been outsourced to other, lower-cost, communities.

    This demonstrates that you can’t talk about facts without pissing people off and/or looking like an arrogant asshole. Oh well.

  27. Sweet. Constructive criticism. Love it.

    A few thougths.

    The size of page is somewhat arbitrary. Comparing Techmeme and Tailrank here is
    a bit unfair because there *is* no page two on Techmeme. They put everything on
    one page. I’m not sure this approach will scale for Tailrank because we have a
    larger index and break more stories (around 1k per day with a lot on the long
    tail).

    We used to make the first page just have 30 items which would solve this
    problem. I think we ended up moving from 30 to 10 to increase page load time.
    Maybe now that the “next” button is at the bottom of the page I should think
    about increasing the page length back to 30.

    I’ll probably think about this for 24 hours and then increase the size back to
    30…

    “The percentage of articles is higher on TailRank, but unfortunately the
    quantity wins out, I see TechMeme the winner here too.”

    What? How does that make sense? Basically you say that Tailrank had more
    stories you liked within only 10 items but you say that Techmeme still wins?
    That doesn’t make any sense.

    Basically you’re criticism boils down to the fact that you like thirty stories
    on one page. So I assume if we just increase the number to 30 that we win the
    Scobleizer challenge? :-)

    That’s an easy enough change!

  28. Sweet. Constructive criticism. Love it.

    A few thougths.

    The size of page is somewhat arbitrary. Comparing Techmeme and Tailrank here is
    a bit unfair because there *is* no page two on Techmeme. They put everything on
    one page. I’m not sure this approach will scale for Tailrank because we have a
    larger index and break more stories (around 1k per day with a lot on the long
    tail).

    We used to make the first page just have 30 items which would solve this
    problem. I think we ended up moving from 30 to 10 to increase page load time.
    Maybe now that the “next” button is at the bottom of the page I should think
    about increasing the page length back to 30.

    I’ll probably think about this for 24 hours and then increase the size back to
    30…

    “The percentage of articles is higher on TailRank, but unfortunately the
    quantity wins out, I see TechMeme the winner here too.”

    What? How does that make sense? Basically you say that Tailrank had more
    stories you liked within only 10 items but you say that Techmeme still wins?
    That doesn’t make any sense.

    Basically you’re criticism boils down to the fact that you like thirty stories
    on one page. So I assume if we just increase the number to 30 that we win the
    Scobleizer challenge? :-)

    That’s an easy enough change!

  29. “That’s absolutely NOT true. I just counted the various blogs that are linked to on TechMeme. About 25% are people I don’t know at all. ”

    Just because you don’t know them doesn’t mean they aren’t elite. I’d hardly say that was an accurate judge. Not meaning to be rude, but just pointing this out.

    I can think of a dozen ‘quality blogs’ that have decent readership and are well respected that aren’t in their index. When you are on the outside looking in it ‘feels’ elite. Maybe I’m biased…

  30. “That’s absolutely NOT true. I just counted the various blogs that are linked to on TechMeme. About 25% are people I don’t know at all. ”

    Just because you don’t know them doesn’t mean they aren’t elite. I’d hardly say that was an accurate judge. Not meaning to be rude, but just pointing this out.

    I can think of a dozen ‘quality blogs’ that have decent readership and are well respected that aren’t in their index. When you are on the outside looking in it ‘feels’ elite. Maybe I’m biased…

  31. @12 “That’s absolutely NOT true. I just counted the various blogs that are linked to on TechMeme. About 25% are people I don’t know at all.”

    So if you don’t know them, they aren’t relevant? Ever considered the fact that you aren’t as well connected as you THINK you are? Couldn’t that be another possibility?

  32. @12 “That’s absolutely NOT true. I just counted the various blogs that are linked to on TechMeme. About 25% are people I don’t know at all.”

    So if you don’t know them, they aren’t relevant? Ever considered the fact that you aren’t as well connected as you THINK you are? Couldn’t that be another possibility?

  33. “This demonstrates that you can’t talk about facts without pissing people off and/or looking like an arrogant asshole. Oh well.”

    Look, I’m as big a Silicon Valley fan as there is (I worked there – in tech – for 5 years and am now in great Boston, so I’ve got some perspective on this), but you’re going a little far to call your opinion a fact. I agree with your concept, but the 90% number is ridiculous…unless you’ve got actual facts to back it up.

  34. “This demonstrates that you can’t talk about facts without pissing people off and/or looking like an arrogant asshole. Oh well.”

    Look, I’m as big a Silicon Valley fan as there is (I worked there – in tech – for 5 years and am now in great Boston, so I’ve got some perspective on this), but you’re going a little far to call your opinion a fact. I agree with your concept, but the 90% number is ridiculous…unless you’ve got actual facts to back it up.

  35. Jesse: go to Boston. Look around at how many tech companies there are. Now look around San Jose. Any questions?

    Paul: value is set by markets. If you think the markets are imperfect, fine. But the value is there. At least until the markets say there’s no value there.

  36. Jesse: go to Boston. Look around at how many tech companies there are. Now look around San Jose. Any questions?

    Paul: value is set by markets. If you think the markets are imperfect, fine. But the value is there. At least until the markets say there’s no value there.

  37. >So if you don’t know them, they aren’t relevant?

    Didn’t say that. But I didn’t realize that the “A list” had gotten so big! Welcome to the club everyone!

  38. >So if you don’t know them, they aren’t relevant?

    Didn’t say that. But I didn’t realize that the “A list” had gotten so big! Welcome to the club everyone!

  39. I dropped Digg from my Bloglines (it works in Opera, while Google Reader doesn’t) and replaced it with Slashdot – far better signal/noise ratio, and much more intelligent discussion in their comments, too.

    I think there’s still a lot to be said for a meritocracy of editors in this day and age of “democratic” websites.

  40. I dropped Digg from my Bloglines (it works in Opera, while Google Reader doesn’t) and replaced it with Slashdot – far better signal/noise ratio, and much more intelligent discussion in their comments, too.

    I think there’s still a lot to be said for a meritocracy of editors in this day and age of “democratic” websites.

  41. “Didn’t say that. But I didn’t realize that the “A list” had gotten so big! Welcome to the club everyone!”

    This just illustrates the problem with TechMeme. It appears to perpetuate the myth that A-listers are the only ones who say meaningful things.

    I like TechMeme (and the A-listers on it), but I’d say it was probably equal to Tailrank, not better. Other bloggers matter man…

  42. “Didn’t say that. But I didn’t realize that the “A list” had gotten so big! Welcome to the club everyone!”

    This just illustrates the problem with TechMeme. It appears to perpetuate the myth that A-listers are the only ones who say meaningful things.

    I like TechMeme (and the A-listers on it), but I’d say it was probably equal to Tailrank, not better. Other bloggers matter man…

  43. For the record Tailrank was always designed to be a meritocracy/democracy. If you generate good content and people link to you you can get into our index….. In fact we’re going to be opening it up again here shortly. We had to disable this for a bit but we want to make sure everyone has a fair chance at making the news…….

    Thanks!

    Kevin

  44. For the record Tailrank was always designed to be a meritocracy/democracy. If you generate good content and people link to you you can get into our index….. In fact we’re going to be opening it up again here shortly. We had to disable this for a bit but we want to make sure everyone has a fair chance at making the news…….

    Thanks!

    Kevin

  45. Google Reader, Splogs, Linkblogs, Blog Readership

    But the Google reader has major flaws, which noone is really talking about. In fact I have noticed a growing tendancy for reporting thee flaws as a cool feature, without any emphasis on the negative aspects of using these “featues”.

  46. I think I see a Scobleshow item coming up. How to manage the volume of information. Take some top bloggers, CEOs, and general Internet users and see how their method of information ingestion stack up. Could end up on Lifehacker too ;-)

  47. I think I see a Scobleshow item coming up. How to manage the volume of information. Take some top bloggers, CEOs, and general Internet users and see how their method of information ingestion stack up. Could end up on Lifehacker too ;-)