July 31, 2008

Where You Get Your Tech News Shapes Your Tech Views

By Rob Diana of Regular Geek (Twitter/FriendFeed)

FriendFeed seems to be the source of most of my interesting conversations these days. Sometimes the benefit of FriendFeed is not even the conversation itself, but finding a link to a blog post that I normally would not read. This happened this week when Jesse Stay shared a post to a story on newspapergrl.com. I read a lot of what Jesse shares, but this site is one I had never read. I found the post interesting because it was about tech news and how slow things are:
I just got off the phone with my friend Chris and we talked about how we hardly blog anymore. Also about how nothing seems that exciting in tech lately. It's mostly about Google and the iPhone over and over. Are we just cynical or have things quieted down considerably?
I had no idea that this is what people thought. This was not written during the iPhone hype, this was written a few days ago. So, I decided to look and see what news was posted on Thursday, July 31st.

First, let us look at what TechCrunch had to offer.

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Out of 16 stories in our selection, 4 were tech financial news, 3 streaming video stories and the remainder (9) were about various sites and their features. For a technology news site, that seems very reasonable.

ReadWriteWeb tends to have more opinion and review posts than TechCrunch and their stories reflect that.

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You can not tell from all of the headlines, but of the 16 posts, 6 were opinions and reviews. 4 of the posts were about video, image or mobile devices. The remainder were about various sites and their features. Again this is a reasonable breadth of information.

The last "heavy" technical news site I want to look at is Mashable. They tend to be not as news-heavy as TechCrunch, and have more of a social application focus. So, what did they post?

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Out of Mashable's 16 posts, 5 were about video, audio or images and 10 were opinions or reviews of various sites. Lastly, there was 1 self-promotion post. Given the specific content focus, this is also reasonable. So, we have looked at the 3 popular tech sites that many early adopters read. In order to contrast what a mainstream user might read, I took a look at what stories Yahoo Tech News listed for the day.

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For Yahoo, we again sampled 16 stories. Of these stories, 5 were financially related, 2 were about cell phones, specifically controlling kids use and cancer risks. 3 of the stories were about server products (VMware, Microsoft "Midori", and SharePoint). 3 more stories were about video games, 2 of which were about WordScraper/Scrabulous. The last 3 stories were the Chinese internet censorship, a Blu-ray player for Netflix, and 6 Ways to Save on Groceries. A simple breakdown does not really show the difference, except for the groceries story. The 3 stories on server products were mostly business related. VMWare giving something away, another product trying to replace SharePoint, and what "Midori" could do for Microsoft.

Most of the stories on Yahoo contain little or no technical detail. You do not see anything about social networks or other social applications. There was no announcement for the SocialMedian release or the redesign of Delicious. So, why is this important? It is important because most people are not reading about the same things that an early adopter is reading. Obviously, there will always be some overlap, but the mainstream users care about very different things. Given the various discussions about passionate users, early adopters and mainstream users, maybe we need to take a step back and think about how we bridge that gap. If you do not agree, then find your most non-technical friend and explain why they need to use Twitter and FriendFeed. Do not be surprised if they ask whether they could find more than 6 ways to save on their groceries.