To be fair, we’ve seen this before. Every participant in BloggerCon (including myself) was part of an aggregated RSS feed published by Feedster. And both TechEd and PDC, the Microsoft conferences for IT Pros and Developers, respectively, have had their own aggregated blog sites. The roots reach further back, to 24 Hours of Democracy, which in 1996 predated (most) blogs and any concept of XML content syndication, and to the late lamented my.netscape.com which pioneered RSS feeds in portal sites (O’Reilly’s Meerkat and the various iterations of UserLand’s Frontier-based aggregator, from Radio to Manila, must also get the nod in this context). The roots reach forward, too, to the blog portal on Microsoft.com, which I helped launch a few weeks ago and which aggregates blog content from people across the company, on a myriad of blogging platforms, and lets people slice and dice the content via keyword searches and content scoping.
But this week, with three sites launching independently that aggregated content about the same event, special-purpose aggregation sites could be said to reach critical mass. If triangulation in the blogosphere is the art of reading three or more sources who write about the same event from differing viewpoints to arrive at the truth, what do we call this? Hyper-triangulation?
Sometimes (with no disrespect to my colleagues at Microsoft, or our friends at Technorati and Feedster, and certainly no disrespect to the Bloggfatha) it seems that there is an evolution of programmer cred. First everyone had to write their own weblog software; next, everyone had to write their own aggregator client; now everyone has to write their own scalable aggregator portal.
But all snidery aside; the reason everyone writes an aggregator portal is the same reason that everyone wrote a weblog client: because it’s massively useful and in the best interests of everyone. Reading the convention blogs, one gets a feel of life on the FleetCenter floor that network TV may never again deliver. Because it’s too boring for live TV? Perhaps, but reading the blogs, one finds the pockets of excitement because everyone is talking about them: Barack Obama’s speech, Ted Kennedy’s damn-near-valedictory panegyric to the Massachusetts roots of the American Revolution, Ron Reagan’s apolitical call to revive stem cell research, and the pulpit pounding furor of the Reverend David Alston (former Vietnam boatmate of John Kerry). Plus photos and discussion of the Free Speech Zone.