Memeorandum, the popular website — or “meme tracker” or “meme digger” — that tracks political news stories and related blog reactions and conversations in nearly real time, has embarked on a crafty and winning expansion strategy over its relatively short existence. tech.memeorandum.com, its first spin-off site, provides a similar service for tech-related stories.
These sites attract Internet newshounds and keep them coming back because they’re effective and intuitive: they give readers what they need – the biggest, buzziest stories of the day organized neatly and efficiently around “clusters” of links to various mainstream media websites and influential blogs. The bigger and fresher the story, the higher it sits on the page. The biggest headline is literally the biggest font on the page. Underneath that story, selected links to news sites and blogs are presented, making it very easy to quickly swallow a torrent of information about a story.
These sites also have a knack for finding stories that you wouldn’t have thought about looking for on your own. This is a very significant factor in that it in some ways replaces that “offline” feeling that one gets while browsing through a traditional print newspaper. It brings that aura of discovery and excitement to the real time environment of the Internet. It also provides readers with that feeling of being on the cutting edge, that one knows what’s going on – and what others are saying and chattering about it – at the same time or ahead of everyone else.
Several months ago, a third spin-off site broke outside the political and tech realm and into an area in which the hunger for scraps of information and the faintest hint of a story is insatiable these days. We Smirch, which announces itself as an “automatic dirt digger,” takes the model to the land of celebrity news and gossip.
Now, the newly launched Ballbug takes on the sports world, and baseball in particular. I’ve often wondered why sports blogging hasn’t become “bigger” than it is, what with the millions of ravenous sports fans out there, 24-hour cable and radio stations, scores of print publications and popular websites, etc.
What Ballbug has the ability to do so well, via the Memeorandum platform, is to marry the worlds of the mainstream media, the blogosphere, and real time coverage (Ballbug updates every five minutes) of baseball news, opinions, and events. Baseball itself is a wonderful platform, of course, because of the length of the season and the nearly maddening number of games that get churned out each week, from early spring through the fall classic.
The quality of the stories presented across all of these sites is generally quite high. They’re tracked in terms of “influence,” or how many times they’re linked to by other “influential” sites, and by other mysterious algorithmic means developed by founder Gabe Rivera.
Ballbug and its related “sister” sites claim to track “thousands” of websites and blogs. If I may get up on my decidedly and admittedly biased e-soapbox for a moment (full disclosure: I’m the Executive Producer of Blogcritics.org) I would argue that the Memeorandum family does its readers a disservice by not picking up stories from the rich and diverse electronic pages of Blogcritics.org itself. My take is that, unfortunately, because so many kinds of stories (from political analysis to winsome essays, from technology pieces to interviews with punk rock bands) are housed under one “roof,” the algorithmic eye is likely to miss the kinds of buzzy news stories and wonderful conversations that take place here each and everyday.
That said, I think Ballbug is a blockbuster addition to a seriously powerhouse mechanism for keeping up on cutting-second news, and I look forward to tracking new rollout sites over the coming months.