Now that there are thousands of blogs and feed readers and portal pages, web 2.0 has been trying to make all of that better. There is a huge push towards a single source for all of internet needs. In this article, I am going to ignore the simple tools like email and RSS readers because they are just the tip of the iceberg. This is also not about the social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon or Mixx, as they do what they do very well. This is about the pending war for attention between the personalization, aggregation and “socialization” sites. There has been plenty of recent releases and news regarding these new sites. Let me start by explaining what these categories really are.
These sites are mostly just links to various other sites. They aggregate the articles from various social media sites and news outlets. Alltop seems to be new and had some coverage from WebWorkerDaily yesterday. Alltop is just like popurls, but with categories at the top level and more breadth of blog coverage. These sites are great if you just want to browse various sites really quickly to read only those articles that look interesting. It is almost like a “meta-Digg” in the sense that various social media sites are represented, but you get the voting benefits from several sites instead of just Digg. However, these sites are not very personal as you only get what the “public” wants you to get.
These sites allow you to put “widgets” onto the page in any layout you choose. Mostly you have the ability to add a web-email account, most major sites, as well as anything that creates an RSS feed. These sites really become what you want them to be, but start to fall short if you follow a large number of RSS feeds.
Social Content Aggregators
These sites take the social networking aspect of other sites and combine it with RSS feeds. So if you connect with all of your friends, you can see what they are doing or reading based on what RSS feeds they make available. Granted this is a gross generalization, but hopefully you get the point. Mostly, these sites are being graded on ease of use, and the number of other sites that they aggregate.
Pending Attention War
All of these sites have been released, announced or heavily covered within the past two months. Given the proliferation of social media sites and social networks, other sites are going to try to get integration with your favorite site. The main point being, there are only a few sites that can be your main attention getters. What are the sites going to do to try to lure you toward one site or another? These sites are going to be adding new widgets or site integrations at a very rapid pace. In my opinion, the news aggregators will lose in this battle as they are very focused on the one area. Personalization is key in this web world. The social networking aspects of the social content aggregators is interesting, but the personalized homepages allow almost any type of content which will be the tipping point. Having email, weather and some favorite RSS feeds available on one page will still be the king for mass appeal. If the personalization sites start buying the social content aggregators, or including that type of functionality, then the fight will get interesting.
What type of site do you think will win? Is there a site out there that has some unique feature that will push it to the top?