Twitterquake: Sitting with TechMeme during earthquake

Last night I was hanging out with a small group of people when Shel Israel told us “there was just an earthquake.” His wife had called him and he happened to pick up the phone. I instantly looked at my phone and saw Maryam had already called me. Turned out that 80% of the people at the table had the same experience — that a wife or significant other had called them and checked in.

But what was fascinating was what happened next: we all went to Twitter where the earthquake was causing its own “Twitterquake.” Damn, were the posts flowing fast. What a lot of people on Twitter realized was there was MUCH BETTER information flowing through Twitter than on any other media. Quickly we realized no one was hurt, no real damage had been done, so we went back to our dinner.

In San Francisco most of us at the dinner didn’t feel it. I immediately left a TwitterGram, so that everyone would hear our voice and understand that nothing happened where we were.

But the more interesting thing was that I was standing next to Gabe Rivera, the founder of TechMeme/Memeorandum, as this was all going down. He predicted, accurately, that the earthquake wouldn’t make it onto TechMeme. He told us that the only way it’d show up is if it started affecting something in technology. He did keep nervously look at his cell phone to make sure that TechMeme wasn’t displaying anything about it.

We did talk at the table, though, that how we get news has dramatically changed. First of all, the word-of-mouth network was the fastest out there. Loved ones are going to probably tell you news like this before anyone else. Twitter is damn fast, too. Beats the USGS Web site with data. And that’s saying something because the USGS sites report quakes within minutes.

Lots of chatter on Twitter discussed that Google News, CNN, and other mainstream outlets weren’t reporting the news. The local newspaper wrote a story, but this demonstrated how inadequate local journalism is: Twitter had far more information than this story had and had it FAR faster and thanks to things like Twitter, Flickr,, Seesmic, Twittergram, and Utterz, we can cover the story with micromedia in a way that the San jose Mercury News simply hasn’t gotten a clue about.

Well, that’s the Twitterquake wrap up. Anything from your point of view that we should discuss regarding the changes in how we get our news?

Oh, during the quake we didn’t lose power, didn’t lose cell phones, and didn’t lose access to Twitter. During a really big quake there will be lots of infrastructure down, but SOMEONE will be able to get messages out and that’ll really be interesting to watch how information gets shared if, say, all of San Francisco isn’t able to communicate with the Internet.

UPDATE: Mike Doeff was tracking Twitter for every mention of the Quake. Wow, thanks for doing that!

Reverse Engineering TechMeme

OK, OK, since everyone has figured out that you can get on TechMeme by talking ABOUT TechMeme (even better if you attack A-list bloggers) I figured I’d just take my late night and reverse engineer TechMeme.

Two videos. Long, boring, videos that no one will watch. Well, Gabe Rivera, founder of TechMeme, will watch them. Hopefully I don’t have to run a ton of corrections in the morning. Enjoy.

Reverse Engineering Techmeme, Part I
Reverse Engineering Techmeme, Part II

Oh, and I gotta admit that TechMeme is kicking my behind. I’m reading more than 900 feeds and TechMeme usually picks stuff I would have picked to put on my link blog and does it 24 hours a day and a lot faster than I can. There are some exceptions, which I talk about on the end of part II.

I used Seesmic, Loic Le Meur’s new video service to do these. I’m playing around with that and trying to understand the difference between that and and YouTube and all these newfangled video communities springing up.

In the videos I explain why TechCrunch will get to the top of TechMeme even though no one is linking to it. I also explain how to “game” TechMeme (and, how my son Milan helped me game it without me even knowing I was gaming it). I also cover how PR firms get their client’s products onto Techmeme (and how you can do the same thing).

Also, why certain things keep showing up on TechMeme over and over again.

New PR Trend: Anti-Gaming TechMeme?

I’ve noticed that PR types are getting very astute with dealing with bloggers lately and getting their wares discussed on TechMeme.

First they’ll call Mike Arrington of TechCrunch. Make sure he’s briefed first (Mike doesn’t like to talk about news that someone else broke first, so they’ll make sure he is always in the first group to get to share something with you all). Then they’ll brief “second-tier” bloggers like me, Om, Dan Farber, Read/Write Web, and a variety of others. Embargo us all so we can’t publish before Mike does. Then they’ll have a party the night of the launch where they’ll get everyone else to come — if they get even a few bloggers to talk about the new thing then it’ll hit TechMeme by midnight.

I usually ignore the PR at this stage of the game. My business doesn’t rely on being first like TechCrunch requires. My most popular video lately was one with Six Apart which didn’t have ANY news. People just like to hear smart people at smart companies discuss where they are going.

But lately I’ve seen a new PR trend. One where companies don’t show their cool stuff to the A-list bloggers in expectation for coverage. was a good example of this. They just turned on new features last week and let the bloggers discover it organically (when I saw the new features I knew I had to go over and get the scoop).

This didn’t get Kyte onto TechCrunch or TechMeme. But I think it is an interesting stratagy — one of “don’t talk, do.”

On the other hand, I agree with Dave Winer that what Loic Le Meur is doing with Seesmic is brilliant. Loic joins us every evening on Twitter. Hands out invite codes to whoever asks nicely. Then watches our first videos, and puts the best stuff into an edited video.

Loic is playing a PR game at a level that I’ve not seen in these parts.

Here’s a fun game: what is PodTech trying to keep off of TechMeme? Hmmm! 🙂

Oh, don’t believe that PR is getting astute about getting lots of bloggers to talk? Yesterday I was emailed dozens of press releases. Almost all of which have been discussed by bloggers on my link blog today.

How many Google Reader subscribers do you have?

UPDATE: This list is no longer accurate. Google updated the numbers last night and they all changed pretty dramatically. I’ll update the list later this week when I have time.

Darren Rowse on ProBlogger showed me how to look up how many subscribers I have on Google Reader.

So, I went looking for some numbers.

Keep in mind that these are ONLY for Google Reader, which is only a small percentage of subscribers (although a growing number).

First, though, let’s look at the TechMeme Leaderboard. The numbers of Google Reader subscribers are in parenthesis.

1. TechCrunch (Google Reader says: 117,690 subscribers on one URL, 11,470 on another — this is for US site)
2. New York Times (33,159 for front page, 5,298 for top 10 most emailed items)
3. Engadget (146,449, it lists a number of others too — compare to only 28,289 for Gizmodo)
4. Ars Technica (about 19,000 in quick add up of all their feeds)
5. CNET (14,395)
6. Read/WriteWeb (8,479)
7. The Register (5,826 for main feed, 1,208 for headlines)
8. GigaOM (5,393 subscribers, plus 1,840 for ommalik feed)
9. Silicon Alley Insider (unknown)
10. Computerworld (1,341 for breaking news, 1,959 for top news)
11. InfoWorld (889 for TechWatch blog, 4,384 for top news)
12. eWEEK.COM (5,021 for tech news, about 1,000 for other feeds)
13. Wall Street Journal (2,033 subscribers)
14. Associated Press (532 subscribers)
15. (401 subscribers)
16. AppleInsider (16,326. Compare to 16,646 for MacRumors)
17. BBC (202,463 for front page, 6,971 for Tech)
18. Crave: The gadget blog (3,136)
19. Search Engine Land (3,910, none for new Sphinn)
20. Reuters (4,006 for top news)
21. BusinessWeek (7,209, 3,617 for tech)
22. Bits, New York Times tech Blog (212)
23. Techdirt (12,628)
24. (4,071)
25. TorrentFreak (981)
26. Between the Lines (1,588)
27. CrunchGear (4,190)
28. CenterNetworks (254)
29. All About Microsoft (542)
30. VentureBeat (1,138)
31. The Unofficial Apple Weblog (15,457)
32. Gizmodo (28,289)
33. Scripting News (7,594 for Dave Winer’s main blog and 339 for his annex)
34. Rough Type, Nick Carr (1,801)
35. Microsoft (MSDN Blogs where employees blog, 1,357; MSDN magazine, 1,413, Microsoft Research, 2,276, MSDN just published, 5,452, Microsoft’s press releases, 463. Compare to Mini-Microsoft, 3,246. There are a variety of others, but none higher than these)
36. BoomTown + Kara Swisher + AllThingsD (1,325 on Huffington Post, 377 on AllThingsD, 124 on BoomTown)
37. Wired News (104,159 for top stories, 4,291 for science, 2,729 for gadgets. Compare to Google News, which has 192,100).
38. (18)
39. Business Wire (I couldn’t find data here)
40. Scobleizer (600 for ScobleShow, 4894 for Scobleizer, 29 to my Twitter feed,
41. NewTeeVee (1,439)
42. Tech Trader Daily (360)
43 A VC (Fred Wilson) (4,053)
44. PR Newswire (254)
45. Publishing 2.0 (1,270)
46. Forbes (1,058 on Tech News)
47. DailyTech (about 5,500 on main news feed)
48. Epicenter, Wired blog (351)
49. O’Reilly Radar (13,345)
50. Los Angeles Times (415 for top news, 947 for local, 935 for print edition)
51. Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog (597)
52. Times of London (988 for UK News from Times Online)
53. All Facebook (196)
54. Valleywag (5897)
55. Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim (1,656)
56. Inquirer (4,908)
57. WebProNews (about 500)
58. The Jason Calacanis Weblog (2,809)
59. Google LatLong (2,210)
60. ZDNet (930)
61. Download Squad (9,095)
62. Google Operating System (12,284)
63. Official Google Blog (71,283 — the Google Reader blog has 49,242)
64. The Boy Genius Report (1,629)
65. Guardian (7,448, 1,750 on World Latest)
66. PC World (2,279 on latest technology news)
67 Google Blogoscoped (41,387)
68. Infinite Loop (1,987)
69. Macworld (10,545, 843 in top stories)
70. Digital Daily (see Kara Swisher above)
71. Istartedsomething (380)
72. Mashable! (8,763)
73. Engadget Mobile (5,673 for mobile feed)
74. 9 to 5 Mac (76)
75. Guardian Unlimited (7448, 1,750 for World Latest)
76. Financial Times (638. Compare to 176,814 for
77. Yodel Anecdotal, Yahoo’s blog (1,050)
78. MediaShift (784)
79. Yahoo! Search Blog (3,509)
80. Washington Post (5,197, 3,502 for politics)
81. Inside AdSense (4,325)
82. Broadcasting & Cable (63)
83. (226)
84. Google Public Policy Blog (1,397)
85. comScore (526)
86: the::unwired (458)
87: ProBlogger Blog Tips (4,586)
88. Think Secret (10,610)
89. BuzzMachine (Jeff Jarvis) (3,166)
90. Agence France Presse (514)
91. ILounge (4,651)
92. Sprint (I couldn’t find)
93. DigiTimes (474)
94. ipodminusitunes (unknown)
95. Doc Searls Weblog (1,397)
96. Reflections of a Newsosaur (22)
97. Googling Google (1,268)
98. Salon (53,909)
99. Insider Chatter (51)
100. Telegraph (1,260)

TechMeme itself has 10,179.

I also picked some of my favorites to see how they rank
Tantek Celik (402)
Shelley Powers (105)
Tara Hunt (1,083)
Jeremiah Owyang (463)
Scott Beale (1,412)
Rodney Rumford (184)
Blognation (5)
Betsy Devine (73)
danah boyd (2,172)
Shel Israel (552)
Chris Pirillo (2,795)
Stephanie Booth (142)
Daily Kos (7,285)
Daring Fireball (10,878)
Darren Barefoot (359)
Derek Powazek (99)
A List Apart (10,542)
Ryan Stewart (478)
Don Dodge (1,324)
Dare Obasanjo (2,261)
Renee Blodget (178)
Ed Bott (1,113)
Michael Gartenberg (475)
Howard Lindzon (257)
Robert Cringley (5,948)
Jeff Clavier (768)
Jeffrey Zeldman (7,459)
John Battelle (35,976)
Joel Spolsky (26,911)
Tim O’Reilly (10,422)
Joi Ito (1,444)
Jon Udell (3,343)
Loic Le Meur (1,538)
Marc Canter (582)
Dave McClure (122)
Steve Rubel (7,676)
Matt Mullenweg (1,990)
Nick Bradbury (1,287)
Noah Kagan (123)
Paul Boutin (143)
Scott Guthrie (5,511)
Tom Raftery (227)
Thomas Hawk (720)
Uncov (754) (128,748)
Channel 9 (Microsoft’s video community) (2,268)
Leo Laporte (TwiT.TV, 2,854)
Kevin Rose (389)
Digg (14,247 to Digg/Tech; 109,286 for all News and Videos)
Jonathan Schwartz (3796)
Sun’s blogs (161)
Mark Cuban (8,436)
Guy Kawasaki (7,534)
Seth Godin (36,822)
Tom Peters (2,153)

MediaBlitz has its own analysis of the TechMeme leaderboard numbers. Basically it looks like only 5% of the average blog is read in an RSS reader so multiply these numbers by 20 and you’ll probably get close to real traffic levels.

Tim Bray reminds us that these numbers are ONLY for people who subscribed to the feeds in Google Reader. On his server he has 1,455 subscribers for his RSS, 4,403 for his atom feed, while Google Reader reported 3,690 for his feeds.

I’d love to know how many subscribers you have. Can you look your numbers up and put them in a comment? Remember to add up all the various feeds you have (that’s how I got these numbers above).


The next step? What are you learning here? For one the BBC is one of the only sites that puts “about News Feeds” next to all of its feed icons (they link to a well done page about how to use News Feeds). Any wonder why they get so many subscribers?

UPDATE: Fred Oliveira says that Feed Burner is reporting to him that he has 2,445 subscribers from Google Reader but Google Reader says that Fred only has 524 subscribers from Google Reader. So, these numbers may be WAY off. But they are the data I had to work with. Would love to hear your stories. Tim Bray says he’s seeing a discrepancy too.

UPDATE #2: I might have missed some of your numbers. I tried to find them all, but please correct what you find if you find some that I missed.

UPDATE: #3: One thing you can’t look up? How many subscribers you have to my Google Reader Shared Items Blog.

UPDATE: #4: TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington was doing something similar. I need to go to dinner, otherwise I’d put my list in a spreadsheet like that.

The truth about traffic on the Internet

Ahh, the Guardian got into a little dirty truth about traffic on TechMeme: there isn’t many people there.

Every time I get on TechMeme I get 500 to 3,000 visits. That matches what the Guardian and what Nick Carr are seeing.

But, truth is not many sites out there do any better. Yeah, when I get on Digg I get 20,000. When I got on the front page of the BBC a couple times in the past month I got 5,000 each time. But Valleywag? I get 100 to 1,000 visits (I’ve been on there something like 20 times including with some VERY sensational posts that would make anyone click and ask themselves “what the heck did that guy do?”)

Even when I quit Microsoft and was in 150 newspapers and TONS of blogs and such I got 200,000 visits in a two-day period.

Dave Winer? A few thousand per link, but sometimes only a few hundred. Wired? A few thousand. Stumbleupon? I got tens of thousands once, but not lately. Twitter? A few hundred, even when dozens of people put my link up.

I was on the Register one time and only got a few hundred visits even though a friend of mine claimed they had millions of visitors.

My own blog? Most links lately will drive a few hundred visits. My link blog seems to be a little bit better, but not much according to people who’ve been on it.

So, if you’ve gotten a good shot of traffic where do you find you get the most traffic?

Oh, and why does TechMeme get the hype? Because Eric Norlin said in his interview with me today that he reads it. If he reads it that’s good enough for me.

I don’t want a big audience. I want a smart audience. So far I’ve gotten exactly that from TechMeme.

If I wanted a big audience I’d go write a Paris Hilton blog or something like that.

Why idiocy rules on TechMeme

Cause Dave Winer only links to my idiocy. He’s never linked to any of my videos, which is where the smart people and smart ideas in my life are.

[podtech content= &totalTime=889000&breadcrumb=5f58fd21d17d445e93e7385faae975bb]

Smart person on there right now is Sally Strebel, aka “bizgirl” on Twitter. But she’ll never get on TechMeme, even on a slow day like today. Smart people talking about their businesses and their lives are never interesting enough to link to, no?

So, if TechMeme is a cesspool we have only ourselves to blame.

I notice that Dave doesn’t link to my link blog. I keep my stupid idiocy off of there (and I haven’t linked to Jason Calacanis’ latest idiocy either).

My link blog has never been on TechMeme either.

What’s funny is Dave’s post made it onto TechMeme before I even linked to it.

Is FeedHub the answer to information overload?

I’ve been playing with mSpoke’s FeedHub, releasing today at the Demo Conference. I’ll have a video up later today demonstrating the product.

Dan Farber has a review and info up on his ZDNet blog.

I’ve been interested i this topic for some time. Right now I’m reading 848 feeds for my link blog in Google Reader. I’m way overloaded with feeds. Now, imagine I only had 10 minutes a day to catch up on my feeds, how would I do that?

Well, the answer up to now was TechMeme or one of its sisters.

TechMeme actually works great. Tracks thousands of news feeds and every few minutes it remeasures which ones are most important. Problem is that TechMeme only covers tech news. Its sister sites cover gossip, or regular news/politics, or baseball.

But what about 800 custom feeds that you hand picked?

Well, that’s what FeedHub is aimed at.

You put your feeds into it and FeedHub will pick the best stuff to show you out of those feeds.

One problem: for me it doesn’t work. It doesn’t pick the stuff I’d really like to read from my feeds. Almost none of the items match my link blog, for instance.

Now, keep in mind that you’re not supposed to judge FeedHub by its first results. You’re supposed to train it. By using the feed items and clicking on the ones you like, and voting up certain topics, over time it will start bringing ou a lot more stuff that matches your interests.

That’s cool, but I haven’t gotten to that level of commitment with it yet to find out if it really works that well.

I really want to believe in it, though, because I think something like this holds some major keys to information overload and giving us a “custom TechMeme.”

I’ll keep playing with this and see if I can get it to work well for me.

Some other concerns:

1. How big a market is there for a “custom TechMeme?” Not too many people I know are trying to read hundreds of feeds. Certainly not many busy executives who are looking for alternatives.
2. How will they make money? Advertising in the feed items? That’ll make reusing them far less popular and, even, could add its own new noise that’d offset the time savings.
3. What will they do with the attention information they are collecting? Let’s assume that they’ll get everyone who reads feeds to use it, well, then they’ll know more about us and our behavior than even Google does today.

How about you? Any of you playing with this? Are you looking for ways to subscribe to new feeds and get a custom Techmeme?

Oh, one more caveat. It takes up to a day to start working. So if you just try it for a few minutes you’ll have a totally unsatisfactory experience.

UPDATE: Got the videos up here.