Monday, February 18, 2008

Alltop

One of my favorite features of a good blog is their blog roll, or list of blogs I read. It's a virtual card catalog of similar subjects and thinkers. Marc Andreessen's is excellent (several dozen categorized sites), Freakonomics too. Such compilations appetizingly fill my thirst for at-the-ready, interesting information.

If markets are conversations, can conversations -- aggregated -- make a market? Poof. Guy Kawasaki's latest endeavor, Alltop, may brilliantly bake the cake:

We help you explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web. We’ve grouped these collections—”aggregations”—into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as celebrity gossip, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, we display the latest five stories from thirty or more sites on a single page—we call this “single-page aggregation.”

You can think of an Alltop site as a “dashboard” or “table of contents” for your favorite topic. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points—they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and unveiling stories from sites that you didn’t know existed.

Bob Sutton introduced me to Alltop ... his take:
Alltop is a clean, spare, and remarkably user-friendly compilation of top stories in 12 different categories, from autos, to egos, to mac, to sports, to politics, and a lot more. After spending about 30 minutes clicking around, I found it much more efficient and fun than looking for news on Google or Yahoo or any other place that I know. Just click, for example, on the Green Alltop section, and in seconds, you can see what happening everyplace from Treehugger, to The Green Skeptic, to the The New York Times [and Ecoworld!]. I am no expert on interface design, but there is some user experience magic here. It kind of felt like I was speed-reading the web.
Alltop's genesis:

This is the true story of Alltop. If you hear anything else from us, it’s because we retroactively changed the story for marketing purposes. We are the creators of Truemors, a site that is “NPR (or CBC) for your eyes” in the sense that it contains unusual breaking news, stories, and rumors like what you’d hear on NPR. A bit after the site’s launch, our friend Thomas Marban included Truemors in his single-page aggregation of news and tech sites called popurls.

We noticed that popurls sends Truemors as much traffic as Google. Clearly, he was onto something: Aggregate and display a bunch of sites for people, and they will come. This got us thinking about other topics that (a) have a large readership and (b) hasn’t been aggregated in an elegant and efficient manner, and we came up with idea of a doing a popurls of celebrity gossip sites. Then one thing led to another: Why not other topics like gaming, sports, politics, Macintosh, fashion, etc.?

The egos, green and small business sections are most fruitful -- several dozen of the best blogs' latest takes. Dig in for a bite ... it's quite tasty. And, rumor has it that The Art of Business will soon reside in the small business cafeteria, alongside Fast Company, Kawasaki, Fortune and the NYT.

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