On aggregating and rewriting: It’s all a steal!

Gabe Rivera, founder of the excellent TechMeme is irked that the term “aggregator” is being misapplied especially within the context of the HuffPost event earlier this week: Adweek Slams HuffPost But What About Adweek Senior Editor Michael Wolff’s Newser?.

His argument is that the Huffington Post is not an aggregator, people rewrite other people’s stories and that’s different to what Techmeme does, which is to aggregate headlines to stories.

What irked me was the reminder that “aggregator” is a rather broad-brush term that paints systematic news-rewriters like the Huffington Post (who bury links) as cousins to snippet-quoting sites like Techmeme and Mediagazer (which link prominently). Dumenco’s piece, whose subtitle begins with “The Blog Queen Defends Her Aggregation Practices” also cites Bill Keller’s famous column from earlier this year, entitled “All the Aggregation That’s Fit to Aggregate”, which goes as far as coyly utilising the term “aggregate” repeatedly as a euphemism for “steal”.

Since all “aggregators” are now tainted by association, I’m wondering if we should start using a different term to describe what we do at Techmeme.

He makes a good point. But maybe a better term for both TechMeme and HuffPost might be “re-user” because both are re-using other people’s original work. One (TechMeme) is fairer in its re-use than HuffPost and its multitudinous ilk, but both are taking the original work of others without adding value, apart from aggregating lots of people’s work in one place.

There’s not much said about blogging these days but at least with blogging, the idea was to take the story further, to add to the work of others, through interesting commentary, analysis, or additional information.

Blogging was less about taking and more about adding. That’s the fairest model of all. Maybe we should bring it back?



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