Archive for the ‘Web/Tech’ Category

TechCrunch vs DEMO – by the numbers

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Edit: Updated status for Metaplace, Orgoo, and VUVOX based on comments. Numbers updated based on that, but analysis wasn’t really impacted (though there may well be more updates coming). Updated CircleUp status.

I’ve been mostly ignoring all the TechCrunch50 vs DEMO 2008 back and forth as they battle it out for the title of best startup launch conference.  However, Scoble’s post where he talked about his impressions of how they match up got me thinking.  Since I’m an info and analysis junkie, I decided to spend a couple of hours the last two evenings to put together a quick, as objective as possible, shootout between the two to see how good they really are at selecting the best startups and acting as a launchpad for them.

Here’s how I did it.  I grabbed the list of companies from TechCrunch40 and Demo2007. I then clicked onto the homepage and looked for a news/about section.  If I didn’t know anything about the startup I did a quick Google web and news search as well.  Based on that, I ranked each one as follows:

0 – Dead
1 – Inactive (no news/updates for 6+ months, no evidence of any traction)
2 – Active (working away, making progress)
3 – Successful (lots of positive activity, major funding/customer/press/buzz/etc)
4 – Killing It! (dominant market position, major revenues, big exit, etc)

(Note: I spent about 1 minute per company on this, so there will almost certainly be some mistakes here, feel free to comment/correct – I did this just to satisfy my own curiosity, not to make any sort of definitive analysis)

So, how do they stack up?  First, the numbers:

Demo 2007:

Average: 1.9

TechCrunch 40:

Average 2.2

Now, the analysis.  Overall, they don’t look hugely different in outcome and the numbers on the edges are still pretty small, but the edge definitely goes to TechCrunch.  Not surprisingly, the most common status of startups from both conferences a year later is that they are plugging away, building their businesses.  But in this small sample, the failure rate of Demo companies is significantly higher.  Most importantly, about a third of the TC companies have hit some major success milestones as compared to less than 20% of their Demo counterparts.   

So, if you’re a startup, based on last year’s results TC really does look like the better launchpad.  And if you’re a journalist, investor, dealmaker, jobseeker or whoever else interested in the startup world and looking for the next big thing, your chance of picking a winner looks to be higher at TechCrunch.

Here are the buckets I put companies into, obviously there’s some subjectivity here, but 90+% of my decision was made based on the info on their own websites (please note any errors due to name changes, stealth mode, etc in the comments):

TechCrunch 40
0: GotStatus
1: app2you, Cognitive Code, CrowdSpirit, Loudtalks, Metaplace (Areae), Orgoo, Teach The People, Wixi, XTR3D (Extreme Reality)
2: 8020 Publishing, BeFunky, BroadClip, CastTV, Ceedo, Cubic Telecom, DocStoc, FAROO, Kerpoof, mEgo, Metaplace, MusicShake, Orgoo, Ponoko, Spottt (AdBrite), Story Blender (Enfra Networks), Trutap, Viewdle, Yap (a couple of those arguably 3)
3: Cake Financial, Clickable, Flock, FlowPlay, Kaltura (DemoPit WildCard), PubMatic, TripIt, WooMe, Xobni, Zivity, ZocDoc (a couple like TripIt, Xobni arguably 4)
4: Mint, Powerset

Demo 2007

excluded due to stage of company: Adobe Systems, Inc., Aggregate Knowledge, Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, blinkx, Inc., Boston-Power, Inc., ClipSyndicate, a service of Critical Mention, Devicescape Software, Inc., Seagate Technology, SupportSoft, Inc., Symantec Corp., Wyse Technology, Inc., ZoomInfo
0: BUZ Interactive, Mobio Networks, Reveal Technology, Inc., TeleFlip, Inc.
1: Brevient Technologies, Inc., CircleUp, Inc., DARTdevices Corp., DesignIn, Inc., GoWare, Inc., Honeypitch, Inilex, Inc., iqzone, inc., Iwerx, LLC., My Currency Co., Nuvoiz, Inc., OurStory, PairUp, Inc., VUVOX Network, Inc., Yodio, Inc.
2: 6th Sense Analytics, Inc., Attendio, Inc., Bling Software, Inc., Boorah, Inc., Ceelox, Inc., CircleUp, eJamming, Inc., Eyejot, Inc., Helium, Inc, ink2 Corporation, Integrien Corp.,,, Mission Research, Mixpo Portfolio Broadcasting, Inc.,, Preclick Corp., QTech, Inc., SharedBook, Inc.,, SOASTA, Inc., SplashCast, Inc., TextDigger, Inc., ThePort Network, Inc., Total Immersion, Trailfire, Inc., Triumfant, Inc., WHISHER.COM
3:, Inc., Kauffman Innovation Network, Inc., Me.dium, Inc., Nextumi, SailPoint Technologies, Inc., Serendipity Technologies, Inc., Vringo, Inc., ZINK Imaging, LLC.
4: Nexo Systems, Inc., VUVOX, Zoho / AdventNet, Inc.(Nexo and VUVOX were both relatively small deals, but hey, I’m an entrepreneur too, so I’ll be optimistic about these exits!)


Friday, August 15th, 2008

I’m excited to be participating in the Defrag conference this year.  It’s Nov 3-4 in Denver.  Here’s some more about the conference.  There’s a really interesting group of people at Defrag – all involved in figuring out innovative ways to deal with the varied set of challenges faced due to a constantly shifting technology landscape and an always-increasing sea of information.  Eric Norlin has pulled together a diverse group of people in a format that allows plenty of time for deeper discussion than most conferences have.  The agenda features a bunch of great speakers and topics. I’m on a panel discussing "Fixing Foundational Information Channels" with a group of people working on better ways to share, present, and consume information. If you have ideas for interesting areas of discussion for that panel, please comment – I’m hoping we can go a level further than much of the common discussion in these areas that revolves largely around incremental changes to existing applications and platforms.

For anyone interested in attending, today (Aug 15) August 31 is the last day for early bird registration prices.  You can get another $100 off by entering "dh1" as a discount code here.  I hope some of you are able to make it to the conference, and I look forward to brainstorming on some good discussion topics in advance of the event.

Information Overload Research Group news wrapup

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Wow.  We publicly launched the Information Overload Research Group yesterday, thanks to Matt Richtel’s NYC article Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast (which was originally titled Creators of E-Mail Monster Now Try to Tame It – not sure which one I like better).  The article is currently at the top of the NYT most-emailed tech stories list, high on Techmeme, and is being blogged about all over the place.  It’s really great to see this much interest and excitement about information overload and IORG.  A lot of smart folks have given their perspective on information overload and Matt’s story.  Here’s a wrapup of a number of the blog posts:

Merlin Mann asks the question  “What does a company get out of its employees spending half their day using an email program?” and provides his perspective on using email as a tool.

Beth Kanter suggests that we "Turn Off the Damn Email Software and Get Some Work Done (Or go for a walk)!" and shares a number of tips and links to numerous articles and resources on information overload.

Tony Wright worries that "the increasingly personalized infoporn delivered to us through a
broadening array of channels (like RSS, alerts, Twitter, Digg, Email,
IM, Social Networks and more) is a looming disaster."

Paul Mooney points to "Meetings about meetings, emails about phone calls, efficiency tools and
methodologies that nobody can figure out, it’s no wonder burnout is so
prevalent." as a root cause.

Henry Blodget keys in on the claim that "American workers waste $650 billion a year checking email too often."

TJ Kirchner acknowledges the problem, but cautions that companies shouldn’t "use this to
implement really stupid rules and codes of conduct that will only
reduce company moral[e]."

There were also some very good alternate perspectives/counterpoints to the article:

Stowe Boyd posts a lengthy and very insightful rebuttal/counterpoint to a number of the points raised in the NYT piece and much of the conventional wisdom around information overload. "The old school thinking is about individual productivity: but the
social revolution has moved past that into network productivity, which
entails connectedness and social meaning. The personal hit on
productivity is real, but it’s not a cost: it’s an investment; and the
juice is worth the squeeze."  I think Stowe brings up a lot of very interesting and valid points that remind us that there are many moving parts in play here and the best solutions are not necessarily the most obvious ones.

Mark Evans
asks "Is Digital Productivity Dead?" and "is today’s knowledge worker
unproductive or do knowledge workers operate differently?"

And on a related note:

Maggie Jackson, the author of Distracted and a featured speaker at the IORG Conference, writes in BusinessWeek about distractions and interruptions.

Nathan Zeldes shares his observations and provides a detailed update of results from the "Quiet Time" and "No Email Day" experiments at Intel.

That should be plenty to overload you with information about information overload!

Information Overload Research Group launches

Friday, June 13th, 2008

About a year and a half ago, I participated in a workshop with about 20 other people focused on the problem of information overload.  This group included academics researching the impact and novel solutions to the problem, researchers from huge companies like Microsoft, Google, Intel, and IBM, analysts in the space, and a couple of people like me from companies working on information overload solutions.

We had a lot of great discussions, many of which really just got kicked off at the workshop.  A number of us thought that it would be worthwhile to continue these discussions across this cross-section of people doing cutting-edge work in this field.  We formed a steering committee and decided to build on the workshop and create a nonprofit organization focused on the huge and growing problem of information overload.

It took a lot of work, but after a year of meetings, discussions, and debates with an incredibly knowledgeable group of colleagues in this field, we’re now ready to officially launch the organization.  I’m really excited about the opportunities ahead of us.  Matt Richtel just wrote a great article in the New York Times that talks about the Information Overload Research Group
, some of the things we hope to accomplish, and why we think it’s so important.  A couple of my fellow IORG board members, Nathan Zeldes and Jonathan Spira, are featured prominently in the article.

Our first annual conference is going to be held in New York on July 15th.  The final agenda is still shaping up, but we already have a number of great speakers and panelists lined up, including Maggie Jackson, the author of the new book Distracted.

I’ll be writing quite a bit more both here and on the Information Overload Research Group blog over the coming weeks.  A big thanks to all of my friends at IORG who have helped make this happen.  It has been a real pleasure working with them, and I’m very excited about the future of this important organization.

The different levels of beta testers

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

We recently launched the beta program for ClearContext Personal.  I was planning to have my next blog posts here be about our product planning process and how we put together the product plans for our ClearContext Personal and Pro products, and the things we learned by first focusing on the needs of very sophisticated email power users with an incredible pain point of dealing with huge volumes of important and time-critical email.  I’ll get to those soon, but first I wanted to make some observations about our recent beta push.

When we first started ClearContext, our initial beta testers were friends and colleagues.  These people all provide valuable input, but no matter how  much you push them, they are biased towards you and often give you the benefit of the doubt – and are typically pretty forgiving in terms of the finer points of product functionality and user experience.  We still use these people as the first wave of people to give us friendly input on new stuff we are working on, but we recognize that it’s just that – friendly input.

As we’ve developed a base of customers, one big benefit is that we’ve grown an active beta group of users eager to try out new technology while it is still pretty early in development and provide feedback.  These users are quite vocal about what they want to see in the product and very active and important to us when it comes to defining the final feature set we ship with and the details of how certain features work.  Not to mention helping us find that final round of bugs to fix.  These users have been the core of our beta testing process over the past few releases and are a key part of our release process.

We utilized those two groups in testing early versions of our Personal product, including helping us make sure the product was as easy to install and use as possible.  They provided a lot of really good feedback and helped us release a great product that is getting lots of good reviews

When we opened up the beta program to a wider audience, though, we now had a new type of beta tester in the mix.  Many of these beta testers had never heard of ClearContext or anything like it and hadn’t seen any videos or tutorials on the website before installing the app.  Things like ranking your contacts based on how important they are, prioritizing and color-coding incoming email, and providing context around email such as related messages, contacts, and attachments – these were all brand new concepts to them.  We received a lot of useful feedback that was very different from any of the prior feedback when we presented the app to a large group of users who had never seen anything like this before.  One of the biggest things we learned from this process was that even for a lot of very tech-savvy email users, for them to take full advantage of some of the brand new concepts we’re introducing, they could benefit a lot from more guided setup and explanation.  So, we’re adding a lot more of that type of functionality (and a lot more of their feedback) into the product to make it easier for users to understand how best to take advantage of ClearContext – so we can help make their email experience better and reduce their stress and frustration with email.

It’s really amazing that the web provides the ability to get so much great input from such a wide range of users interested in and excited about new technology.  But that input is only really valuable if you understand the perspective of your different beta groups and really listen (and act on!) to what they are telling you.  We’re very thankful to everyone who has helped us in this process and hopefully other companies understand how valuable these people are as well, and how important it is to take full advantage of that valuable resource. 

Cuban and Yahoo…

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

"What would happen if MicroSoft or Yahoo or a MicroHoo went to the 5 top
results for the top 25k searches and paid them to leave the Google
Index ?"

Mark Cuban, 5/14/08

"Carl Icahn presented an alternate slate of directors … Since early 2000, Mr. Cuban has been the majority and controlling owner
of the National Basketball Association franchise, the Dallas Mavericks. …"



Facebook Introductions on the way?

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Facebook just released a feature that suggests people you may know, described well in this Inside Facebook post.  This feels like the biggest step Facebook has taken to get closer to the type of introduction functionality that is at the heart of LinkedIn and  going there seems like a very obvious next step for Facebook.

A quick rundown of the new functionality first. A sidebar entry on your homepage rotates through a couple of people who you share friends with like this:

and the see all page shows you lists of people who you share friends with.  Dyk_2
A lot of the people are just people who you share hyperconnected Facebook friends with (Jon Staenberg knows EVERYONE!).  But it’s also very interesting to see people who you share friends with in completely different social circles.  I’ve definitely had a few, WAIT A SEC, HOW DO THEY KNOW EACH OTHER?!? moments.

My experience browsing the lists is that about 25% of the people suggested are people I actually am friends or acquaintances with, but just haven’t added on Facebook.  About 50% are people I am familiar with, but don’t know personally.  And the remaining quarter are people I don’t know at all.  Basically, a perfect platform from which to launch LinkedIn-style introductions.

I’ve written about contact segmentation in social networking in the past.  This is something that is going to be more important in social networks as boundaries of friends, business colleagues, and online acquaintances start to blur.  Facebook is giving a nod to that with their Privacy Changes and Friend Lists.  But as Facebook and other networks break down the tenuous walls around friends and contacts, having context about the nature of these relationships is going to be more important, and that’s something we’ve been working on.  The ClearContext Contact Exporter lets you extract and export sets of contacts from groups of Outlook folders, allowing you to export everyone you’ve invited to parties onto Facebook or groups like your investment contacts into LinkedIn.  But now that the roles of these social networks are overlapping more, it’s more likely to have both types of contacts in both places, so having richer information about the strength and nature of your relationships known by those sites will become more important – and analyzing email interactions is a good way to figure that out.  In our upcoming ClearContext release we’ve already added more contact-focused interactions directly into messaging workflow, allowing you to work with groups of contacts related to specific contexts or projects.  As we continue to be overwhelmed by information and and ever-increasing number of ways to exchange that information and interact with each other, it’s a really exciting time to be working on intelligent solutions to help people survive in this new era of hyperconnected communications.

Update:  One of the most hyperconnected folks around, the lovely Adriana Gascoigne, just wrote about how much she loves Facebook for virtual networking.   She’s not alone on that by any means, and that is exactly why I think we’ll be seeing functionality like Facebook Introductions soon.

How Privacy and Data Rights Policies Really Stack Up

Monday, November 26th, 2007

, Jason
, Howard Lindzon,
and many others
have been writing about privacy and data ownership issues on Facebook. But I haven’t seen a comparison of policies
showing how Facebook actually stacks up against other players in the space.

So, I decided to take a look and see what policies are
actually in place around the web. Following
are links to privacy and terms of use policies for a number of social
networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace), major web service provider (Google,
Yahoo, MSN/Microsoft), blogging (WordPress, SixApart) and user-generated review (Yelp, Flixster) sites. For each of them, I focused on two specific

1) What is their policy on sharing your personal

2) What rights do they require you grant them to content
you create on their site?

Most all of them have similar policies in place regarding sharing
information for legal reasons, but not all of them explicitly and unambiguously
state they will not share your personal information with
marketers/advertisers. And only about
half explicitly limit the license granted on your content only for use in
providing their service.

Here’s an overview:


Best: LinkedIn, MySpace, Google, MSN, WordPress, SixApart,
– these sites have clearly stated policies not to share your information with

Rest: Facebook, Yahoo, Flixster – these sites may share personal
information with marketing partners and advertisers without your consent

Data Rights

Best: LinkedIn, MySpace, Google, WordPress, SixApart, Yahoo
(photos, graphics, audio, or video)
– these sites utilize your content in a limited
manner as necessary in providing their service

Rest: Facebook, Yahoo (Content other than photos, graphics,
audio or video), Flixster, MSN, Yelp
– these sites require you grant them a
license for potentially much broader usage of any content you put on their
sites (in the case of MSN, granting the rights to the public rather than just MSN and in the case of Yelp, potentially preventing you and your friends from creating your own database of reviews you posted on Yelp)

And here are the actual links and excerpted text from the


We share your information with third parties only in limited
circumstances where we believe such sharing is 1) reasonably necessary to offer
the service, 2) legally required or, 3) permitted by you.

irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully
paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly
perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part)
and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or
otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to
prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content


· We will never rent or sell your personally identifiable information to
third parties for marketing purposes

· We will never share your contact information
with another user, without your consent.

royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use this
information in the course of offering the LinkedIn service.


will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe
that disclosure is necessary: (1) to conform to legal requirements or to
respond to a subpoena, search warrant or other legal process received by, whether or not a response is required by applicable law; (2) to
enforce the Terms of Use Agreement or to protect our rights; or (3)
to protect the safety of members of the public and users of the service.

a limited license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly
display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on and through the MySpace


Google only shares personal
information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the
following limited circumstances:

We have your consent. We require
opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.

By submitting, posting or
displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide,
royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate,
publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which
you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for
the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the


Microsoft does not sell, rent or lease its MSN customer lists
to third parties.

However, by posting or otherwise
providing your submission, you are granting to the public free permission to:

  • use, copy, distribute, display, publish and modify your
         submission, each in connection with the service;
  • publish your name in connection with your submission;
  • grant these permissions to other persons.


Yahoo! does not rent, sell, or share
personal information about you with other people or non-affiliated companies
except to provide products or services you’ve requested, when we have your
permission, or under the following circumstances:

  • We provide the information to trusted partners who work
         on behalf of or with Yahoo! under confidentiality agreements. These
         companies may use your personal information to help Yahoo! communicate
         with you about offers from Yahoo! and our marketing partners.

· With respect to photos, graphics, audio or
video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas
of the Service other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute,
reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on
the Service solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made

· With respect to Content other than photos,
graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly
accessible areas of the Service other than Yahoo! Groups, the perpetual,
irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce,
modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such
Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other works
in any format or medium now known or later developed.

WordPress will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying and
personally-identifying information to anyone.

By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant
Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce,
modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying,
distributing and promoting your blog.


We do not share your information with unrelated third parties for their
direct marketing purposes.

By uploading, placing or posting Content through this Site or
the Services, you grant Six Apart a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive
license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the
purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting such Content on Six Apart’s
Internet properties.


We do not sell, rent, share, trade
or give away any of your personal information, unless required to by law.

By posting Posted Content on the Yelp Site, you agree to and
hereby do grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant,
Yelp, its contractors, and the users of the Yelp Site an irrevocable,
perpetual, royalty-free, fully sublicensable, fully paid up, worldwide license
to use, copy, publicly perform, digitally perform, publicly display, and
distribute such Posted Content and to prepare derivative works of, or
incorporate into other works, such Posted Content. This license is
non-exclusive, except you agree that Yelp shall have the exclusive right to
practice this license to the extent of combining your Posted Content with the
Posted Content of other Yelp users for purposes of constructing or populating a
searchable database of business reviews.


We may share your information with third-party service
providers including advertisers to help us provide or improve the service.

Flixster may share profile information in a personally identifiable
manner and aggregate usage information in a non-personally identifiable manner
to advertisers and other third parties in order to present to members more
targeted advertising, products and services.

However, by uploading, posting, emailing or otherwise
transmitting any User Submission to Flixster or on the Site, you hereby grant
Flixster a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, perpetual and
irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, prepare
derivative works based on, perform, display, publish, distribute, transmit,
broadcast and otherwise exploit such User Submissions in any form, medium or
technology now known or later developed, including without limitation on the
Site and third party websites.

How relevant are “closed” enterprise software systems?

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

There has been a lot of talk over the past couple of years regarding the impact of new technology that focuses on the delivery of software – SaaS/web-based vs more traditional packaged apps.  Other debates revolve around the merits of proprietary platforms vs. open-source technology. 

A lot of that to me simply distills down to questions of economics and implementation.  Important questions from a business perspective, no doubt, but often times not nearly as fundamentally important questions as they are made out to be.

Looking at a lot of categories of enterprise software, I think a more important question is the impact of closed vs open systems.  By closed in this context, I’m speaking of systems that live internally within corporations.  A few of the categories where this has major relevance include SFA, CRM, Collaboration, and Knowledge Management.  For many years, software providers have been trying to help companies maximize the utility of information within their organizations and streamline the way that information is used by people to get things done.

In many of these categories, there’s currently a broad chasm between "internal" apps that look at information within an organization and apps that are built on top of data that lives on the web.  These used to be very distinct silos of information and activity.  However, with the way people now work, these areas are starting to overlap – a lot.

If traditional enterprise software providers aren’t careful, much more lightweight applications that pull little pieces of data out from the enterprise from lots of different places will quickly become more powerful and relevant than the big, deep applications currently in place within the enterprise.

A-List blogger in a couple of months?

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Jason Calacanis writes "I’ve never bought into it since anyone can be on the A-list if they blog intelligently for a couple of months/years."  I’m not sure what exactly his definition of A-list blogger is, but is that really true anymore?  It seems like the volume of blogs, and especially the number of "pro" blog networks out there, has changed the landscape significantly. 

Now, I suppose it might still be true to a degree, especially if someone focuses on writing and linking a lot on a small set of topics covered by an established set of bloggers.  But that’s just more of the same, which is already imo a pretty big failing of a lot of the "A-list" bloggers, many of whom just regurgitate the same stuff a bunch of other "A-list" bloggers are talking about. 

In terms of original content on a wide range of topics, I think it’s really much harder than Jason claims to rise above the noise.  There’s definitely a lot of good stuff being written out there, but I feel like it’s getting harder, not easier, to find.

Looking solely at the tech blogging world and techmeme in specific, what new blogs have emerged as
significant voices in the blogging world over the last few months?  While I’m sure there’s some confirmation bias here, the only one that really pops to mind is Marc Andreesen.  And he’s a very special case for obvious reasons. 

With the growth in volume of blogging, are there really so few new bloggers writing quality content that a bunch of established "A-list" bloggers writing slightly different takes on the newest iPhone or Apple OS happenings is the best stuff out there?   I doubt it.  But the way the blog ecosystem works, there’s a self-reinforcing effect that highly incents bloggers to write on the same topics that already established bloggers are writing about and link to each other.  That trend keeps discussion in the blogging world a lot less interesting and diverse than it could be.