Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

memeorandum + man = flip me

memeorandum, held up by many as the posterchild for automated content aggregation will be extended to enable human input as the service extends into markets outside tech and politics.

In response to a Squash posting arguing the merits of a hybrid human/machine aggregation system, memeorandum creator Gabe Rivera said: “I’m planning extensions to my system to enable a hybrid man+memeorandum. Not so much for tech but for other areas.

While Gabe holds to the fact that blog conversations materialise so fast that they require an automated aggregation and filtering process, he is planning hybrid approaches as memeorandum expands.

Gabe has previously flagged in various blog postings that he has plans to extend memeorandum into other categories, perhaps as soon as this year.

The revelation begs questions as to the business model that might underpin memeorandum. If memeorandum is to employ editors as it breaks into other categories like entertainment, sport and so forth, does this mean that Gabe has landed funding? In November, TechnologyReview.com said that “We also understand that … memeorandum may close a round of financing shortly”.

Another option for memeorandum is to partner. Again, Gabe noted on the tinfinger blog that “franchising has always been on the table”.

A network of memeorandum site’s overseen by expert human editors would be a compelling initiative.

From a business perspective, enabling human input into the memeorandum system is a smart move. Among all the Active Web start-ups, I’d like to have two bob invested in memeorandum with an eye to flipping. And it probably won’t be a GEMAYA, but one of the larger publishing houses that hands over the cash.

I can tell you, these blokes have flock-all idea about where the blogosphere is going and how they’re going to respond and they’re going to have to look outside for the answers. They also have very limited tech capabilities and if it took a programmer like Gabe two years to knock off memeorandum, how long do you reckon it’s going to take a big, unwieldy publisher.

Gabe’s very modest about what he’s achieved with memeorandum. He points out that Drudge and other more traditional content aggregation sites generate far more traffic than he does and that he’s still someway off having really created something that can be described as a success. But memeorandum is the site that, more than any other, has captured the attention of the elite, high-powered blogging community. In publishing terms, those influential (notwithstanding by previous post tonight) individuals represent power eyeballs that in turn represent advertising revenue.

Filed under: Content Aggregation, memeorandum

2 Responses

  1. To add to your characterisation of the larger publishing houses investing in aggregators, the signature example of this has to be in March this year: Topix.net selling 75% of itself to Knight Ridder, Gannett and Tribune at an estimated total valuation of US$64 million, even though Topix only had US$1 million in revenues in 2004.

    The problem comes with monetising the traffic. Topix was smart in that it had a revenue source from day one. Memeorandum is going to have it a little tougher, because it hasn’t had any ads so introducing them would be a potential turn-off, especially for its core tech audience. It plays to a market which considers ads, as Mike Arrington put it the other day in the context of another site, to “get in the way of the user experience”.

    From reading articles about Topix, it apparently got bought not for its eyeballs or its ad revenue, but for its audience segmentation technology, particularly useful for companies wanting to target ads to specific locations or niche content channels. I wonder what similar behind-the-scenes technology Memeorandum would be worth flipping for. Maybe the clustering algorithm?

    I still think the franchising option is Gabe’s best bet, and have told him so more than once.

  2. Phil Sim says:

    The problem with franchising is it potentially makes you a harder sell. If you’ve got aggreements/contracts with other parties it has to complicate the sale process. When we decided to go down the franchisng paths with MediaConnect that was one of the factors we had to take into consideration.

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