I’m profoundly flattered to have this blog featured on Top Ten Sources, an edited aggregator that’s attempting to popularize blogs to a wider audience than they currently reach. Top Ten Sources contributors Irina Slutsky and Indigo Tabor put together a list of ten bloggers they call “Thinking Bloggers”, primarily featuring folks who’ve got at least one foot in the technology industry, but use their blogs to talk about a variety of interests. I’m in amazingly good company, featured alongside my friends David Weinberger, Wendy Seltzer and Ejovi Nuwere, as well as business and tech luminaries like Mark Cuban and Jeremy Zawodny. To celebrate, Weinberger and I are going to go to a Celtics game and see how many fines we can wrack up heckling the refs.
Because disclosure is the order of the day (more on this in a later post), I should note that several of the people behind Top Ten Sources – editor Wendy Koslow and investors Jim Moore and John Palfrey – are all people I’ve worked with in the past and consider good friends. John Palfrey is the director of the Berkman Center and is, technically, my boss… I think this reveals less about conflict of interest in the technology industry and more about the fact that people in the web world tend to work with people they like. Other than a glass of decent wine and a t-shirt at their launch party, the Top Ten Folks haven’t given me anything to make me say nice things about them… nor have I given them any compensation to get them to feature me on their site.
Top Ten Sources has been the subject of some interesting discussion around their business model – blogger Mike Rundle asks whether Top Ten Sources is “stealing your content” by featuring it on pages that might later contain advertising. He asks whether Top Ten Sources is getting clearance from other sites before republishing content and suggests that, if they’re not, they’re “no better” than lots of other sites that repackage copyrighted content from around the web. John Palfrey clarifies – and I can confirm – that editors from Top Ten Sources attempt to contact authors before their blogs are featured on the front page of the site and gives authors the option to opt out.
I didn’t opt out for an obvious reason: like many bloggers, I want as many people to read what I write as possible. I also want people to republish and reuse my content, so long as I’m credited as the initial author. This is why all my content is released under a Creative Commons attribution license – while I appreciate it when people ask me before using my content, this license means they don’t have to ask.
I’ve got high hopes that more bloggers will put themselves in a position to be aggregated by sites like Top Ten Sources. As the blogosphere grows, it’s harder and harder to decide what to spend a limited amount of time reading. My aggregator is changing rapidly nowadays, as I stop reading so many “A-list” bloggers and am reading more bloggers from parts of the world I’m interested in. Reading BlogAfrica every day has replaced following some tech industry blogs closely – I’m pretty confident that if something really important happens, it’ll show up in Metafilter, BoingBoing or Dayppop’s top 40… whereas I’m not at all confident that important stories from Africa will.
In “Republic.com”, Cass Sunstein worries that we’re heading to a future where we each read our own daily newspaper – The Daily Me – and have no common frame of reference to engage with our fellow citizens. In “The Diamond Age”, Neal Stephenson’s neo-Victorian fantasy novel of a world transformed by nanotechnology, while newspapers are infintely customizable, most of the world’s most powerful people read an identical edition of a daily paper, printed on newsprint on an old-fashioned press. In other words, the need for a common context outweighs technical innovation.
Perhaps edited aggregators like Top Ten Sources – and Global Voices, for that matter – are the common context of the future. Or perhaps they’re just the only forum in the world where Mark Cuban and I will be considered members of the same group!