Aggregation Nation ( A look at blogging in the Age of Digg and other aggregators)

The individual blogger is facing many challenges these days, among the most daunting is the gigantic aggregator.  Services like Digg, Reddit, and Delicious or even blogs that do nothing except take other peoples work.

The Problem with Aggregation

Digg is a really great service it takes the best links on the web and puts them all in one place.  The most active role of Digg, is taking excellent blog articles and catapulting it to fame in front of tons of people.  This is also it's worst feature hands down.  Getting your blog in front of tons of people would be great, but the likely hood of someone getting their blog featured on Digg is very small.  The real effect of Digg is to take the normal readers of every day blogs and allow them to  spend all of their time at Digg.

In the past readers would subscribe to a blog or visit it frequently, they would skim and scan for the articles that most interested them.  This would create page views as well as inflate the number of readers that subscribed to an rss feed.  This is still the case for the very large blogs out there, because you can't Digg everything they do.   In the last couple of years the amount of RSS subscriptions for small bloggers has definitely dwindled, and rightly so.  There is no longer a reason for some one to subscribe to one of these two cent blogs ( like mine).  Their best work will eventually make it to the rest of the web.

There are many types of aggregation besides digg.  The real killer I think has been blogs that are entirely based on aggregation.  These blogs basically revolve around reading other blogs and taking the best content.  Side Note: One time I followed the link trail back to the source of some insane computer desk article.  I hit almost 14 sites before I made it the source.  These types of blog that bubble the best content to the top take page views away from the smaller blogs. I guarantee if Engadget has a picture of a storm trooper dressed like Marilyn Monroe, people will stop by to look at it.  I can also guarantee that no one will take the 4 - 15 link ride to see it from the source.  The same is almost always true when a page mentions  a news story, but puts all the information you would want to know in a synopsis.  I am not saying blogs these are bad, I find them very useful, but they definitely add to the difficulty smaller bloggers face.

The Upside of Aggregation

Aggregation can definitely work in your favor, it's just not likely.  If you are a great blogger and you are choosing relevant topics chances are you probably won't make it into aggregation.  If you are the best blogger in your genre and choose relevant topics you will be aggregated often.  This effect often takes people to the top very quickly allowing them to bypass the monotony of audience building.  This is extremely beneficial for that particular blogger and beneficial for readers.  Great writers get to skip the steps of building, learning to write for their audience, and other tedious steps while users get great content immediately.

Aggregation can also form a symbiosis between blogs and services.  Many services could not run unless blogs were willing to play ball, and they certainly are.  Those little boxes at the bottom of the screen with Digg, stumble, and Reddit buttons aren't there by accident.  Bloggers know that if they can get bumped up into aggregation they will post huge numbers and hopefully grab some new regular readers.  This directly helps the services with free promotion and often by directing traffic directly to them.  However, bloggers must be careful this Symbiosis can easily be broken.  Diggers have posted the relevant information directly the description of some posts, so readers won't have to go to website.

Aggregation services have become a regular part of life for any one on the internet.  It can make bloggers and it can break bloggers.  I ultimately see these aggregation sites as the enemy of the one man blog, and I also expect them to force bloggers into groups.  This will ultimately be bad for aggregators forcing them to shift their paradigm.  I guess what I am saying is that aggregators will ultimately burn themselves out.

Written By Jon

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