Random thoughts on our new Living in China aggregator

It seems that overnight we’ve become a community, certainly much more than we ever were before. All thanks to that rotating list of posts on that Living in China aggregator.

It’s really quite amazing. All of those asteroids flying off in different directions are now one sleek asteroid field soaring in unison; all those desert islands spread irrationally here and there are suddenly each part of a carefully architected archipelago; all of those….well, enough with the metaphors.

I just want to note how in just a few short weeks Living in China has changed my (and probably your) surfing habits. I now go to a lot more of the regional blogs than I used to, often selecting them based on the headline that appears in the aggregator. (Big lesson here — write good headlines if you want to boost site traffic.)

I also feel like I now know some of these bloggers on a much more intimate level. Many have been emailing me, and not just about the upcoming meeting in Beijing. I know that at least a portion of my improved site traffic is thanks to LiC. And my Comments have gone through a complete metamorphosis over the past few weeks, with a lot more inputs from a much broader spectrum of readers.

And now for the bad news. No, it’s not a criticism, just an observation I made the other day. Due to the aggregator, I’ve been making more and more visits to LiC, and fewer and fewer visits to the sites I always made a point of visiting daily. This was driven home to me two or three days ago when I went to either Adam’s or Conrad’s site (I forget which) and scrolled through and realized there were several posts I had missed — because I didn’t catch them on the aggregator, and I was no longer making my daily romp through their blog!

No system is perfect, so I guess we just have to be diligent and keep in mind that the aggregator can’t show everything all the time. We still need to visit each other’s blogs on a regular basis, or we will definitely lose out.

Meanwhile, if that’s the worst criticism I have of LiC, then I have to say it’s a damned good system. Thanks to those who took the time and the effort to make it happen.

One quick question: Do we have any data on site traffic for LiC? I think we’d all like to know how it’s growing, and which geographies are generating what proportion of the hits. Something like that would be really useful. Thanks again.

The Discussion: 21 Comments

Visiting LiC more often and not the other blogs is actually okay I think. Because think of it this way, people will actually know more sites and be browsing around more often. It doesn’t take a lot to hit the “main” link to view recent posts.

Like I said in my earlier posts, the RSS feeds in that aggregator are acting like a hub in our community.

November 27, 2003 @ 6:14 pm | Comment

If I were dictator of the blogosphere I’d require every site to have Site Meter available for public access.

Oh yeah, and boobie pics would be mandatory on all blogs.

November 27, 2003 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

Steve Gillmor on RSS feeds:

“So far no one has made the connection that RSS, the Real Simple Syndication or something like it, is threatening to become the first killer app of the post-Napster p-to-p space,” he writes in his column arguing against the thesis…

November 27, 2003 @ 6:20 pm | Comment

I concur on both.

I already do the first, and with Conrad around I don’t need the latter. Superb find today Conrad.

November 27, 2003 @ 6:20 pm | Comment

The blog aggregator is definitely handy! However, I find that if I rely solely on this source I am directly mostly towards the same few blogs. So I still wander off to check out individual sites to keep a little variety going.

I’ve also noticed that my blog address remains listed as a blogspot, despite my change over to sinosplice and the appropriate notification e-mails. I guess I’ll never get my day in the aggregator sun ๐Ÿ™‚

November 27, 2003 @ 6:29 pm | Comment

Visiting LiC more often and not the other blogs is actually okay I think. Because think of it this way, people will actually know more sites and be browsing around more often.

It’s okay, it’s just not perfect; I guess there has to be a give and take. As I said, the solution is pretty simple, i.e., don’t forget that if you don’t keep going to the sites you love periodically and scanning them, you will definitely miss things. My only concern (not even a concern, more a question) is whether we might become dependent on an aggregator to do our surfing for us.

November 27, 2003 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

Conrad, I’m emailing it to you if you don’t mind. Thanks.

November 27, 2003 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

Patrick: I find that if I rely solely on this source I am directly mostly towards the same few blogs.

Yeah, like Phil’s, and Phil’s, and Phil’s, and Phil’s, and….

(Phil, I’m just kidding.)

November 27, 2003 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

Good points. On the site statistics, they are no secret, just not publicly viewable as yet. Any suggestions for a suitable software to use?

Also, the RSS feeds are not as comprehensive as we’d like. Still have some troubles with blogspot sites for instance.

Both Andres and Adam are also working on different ways to promote the “best of China blogs” as determined by the members. Meanwhile Andres is developing a separate “Review” aggregator for blogs that focus on news and commentary. It would be nice to categorise the aggregator, but few blogs have a specific focus.

Lastly, yes, good headlines work. Plus, some members have (inadvertently) worked out a way to manipulate the aggregator, ensuring their latest posts stay at the top of the aggregator.

November 28, 2003 @ 8:24 am | Comment

If you don’t use Site Meter, or use it but don’t display the stats or the site, then you are not going to show up on services such a TLB’s Traffic Ranking.

The numbers provided by Site Meter, for all their flaws, have become the standard.

November 28, 2003 @ 11:32 am | Comment

Richard:

I think I’ve solved your comment posting problem at The Gweilo Diaries. Unfortuntely, you share an ISP with a persistent
troll. By banning the trolls root address, I got you too. I’ve made changes that, I hope, will let you post but still banish the troll.

Try and leave a comment and let me know if you still have a problem.

November 28, 2003 @ 11:37 am | Comment

I just think it’s great to have such a wide open community.

We need more though.

Is there a way to do screen captures of other blogs, like in a thumbnail presentation on a separate page, so that people will be enticed to go to those sites?

November 28, 2003 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

Some numbers would be great on LiC. I’ve certainly noticed an increase in traffic. I was chatting with an American blogger at the HK meetup and he was excited about the idea of the aggregator, seeing it as the next great move in blogging. It make sence too: a series of content based aggregators let’s many pick and choose particular topics from a wider range of blogs.

Dare I say there should be some kind of Asian blog meetup sometime to discuss all this further, lubricated appropriately.

November 28, 2003 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

What I would do is this. Have people who are in the aggregator put in appropriate descripton tags in the DC area of their RSS feeds – there are more tags available for categorising content than are used in the standard rss 1.0 feed as templated in MT etc. Anyone using pMachine or MT or fabulously intelligent self-builders like me can easily add these things to the templates.

November 29, 2003 @ 4:49 am | Comment

I will say there is no doubt LiC has a traffic effect. I know I have had 467 incomings from the host name living in china in the since it started. I am sure a few of those were masochists who decided to come back for more. And Richard, you are right. Like the links listing in a certain site, it acts as a sort of bookmark for many people.

November 29, 2003 @ 4:53 am | Comment

9.20am HK time Saturday. I got the FIRST SEVEN STORIES on the aggregator. I knew I was good but I did not know I was this good.

November 29, 2003 @ 9:20 am | Comment

It’s all in the timing ๐Ÿ˜‰

November 29, 2003 @ 11:04 am | Comment

Capturing China: 2003-12-19

DEC 19/03 TOPICS INCL: PRC and Taiwan give-and-take; Chinese interaction with expat bloggers … The Information Revolution is coming to town … Economic indicators … Asian Weblog Awards … And your one-stop shopping for China-based blog commentary.

December 20, 2003 @ 12:57 am | Comment

Capturing China: 2003-12-19

DEC 19/03 TOPICS INCL: PRC and Taiwan give-and-take; Chinese interaction with expat bloggers … The Information Revolution is coming to town … Economic indicators … Asian Weblog Awards … And your one-stop shopping for China-based blog commentary.

December 20, 2003 @ 1:02 am | Comment

Capturing China: 2003-12-19

DEC 19/03 TOPICS INCL: PRC and Taiwan give-and-take; Chinese interaction with expat bloggers … The Information Revolution is coming to town … Economic indicators … Asian Weblog Awards … And your one-stop shopping for China-based blog commentary.

December 20, 2003 @ 1:05 am | Comment

Thanksgiving and Melancholy

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and ZUCC teachers and friends had a great meal at the Holiday Inn. 148 rmb per person is pretty steep, but it was all you can eat (and all you can drink), and the food was top…

May 3, 2004 @ 11:41 am | Comment

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