Blogger Louis Gray has been studying the referrals to his blog and has noticed that getting linked to by a large blog site or influential blogger doesn’t drive the same level of traffic as it used to. The move in traffic generation has been to the aggregators like Techmeme, Reddit, Digg etc. There is also a large shift towards readers consuming content through RSS readers rather than always coming direct to the website.
Both these trends are understandable to an extent. The sheer volume of content and the large number of blogs that are out there make it very difficult for people to easily find interesting or relevant content without the aggregators. This is a catch 22 situation. There is too much content out there for a user to filter it without taking up way too much time. The aggregator sites help with this by doing a pre-filter for us. This leads to a bit of group think though, where we only see the articles that algorithm’s have determined are the most important. RSS readers are also a way for us to deal with large amounts of information more easily
It is natural that a space that is as relatively new as blogging will evolve rapidly over time. The environment will continue to evolve as technologies grow and develop and as people throw ew ideas into the mix. I don’t think anyone can argue that we have the whole community information thing down perfectly yet. We have never individually had access to more information as a species and we need to work out exactly how to best process it.
I do not believe that the final solution is going to be the aggregators. This is not really a model that gives us the best information. It is the method that is easiest for advertising though, and since that is the prime method for revenue in the space this gives those sites the power at the moment. I would imagine that the future will be in more human edited content rather than algorithm generated content. For this method to succeed though a way to generate revenue directly from the content consumption needs to exist as advertising revenue is not large enough or stable enough to fund this.
Advertising also has a corrupting influence on editorial content. This is not necessarily in a pernicious way, but a subtle influence that this has when advertising is the only method with which a company gets its revenue. The people that give you your revenue are your real customers. If all you have is advertising then your business is to deliver people to advertisers, not to deliver a service to your “consumer”. Over time a couple of revenue generating models will emerge and then the game will change yet again.