From Mark Evans: It’s an Aggregation Festival:
There’s always a new, hot trend on the Web, and aggregation suddenly seems to be where it’s at. The big question is: why and why now? Arguably, it’s because the more people use the Web to consume, create and share content, the more difficult to find what you want in one place. Aggregation services are, in a sense, the Web’s 7-11s where you can find a variety of stuff (although far from everything) at a single location.
I have to admit that I read several aggregation sites daily. BUT, I have to disagree with Mark's conclusion that that they are the "the Web’s 7-11s where you can find a variety of stuff... at a single location." Personally, I almost never go to these locations. I use them initially as a mechanism to browse what's being aggregated, and then subscribe to the requisite feeds. It's a way of previewing a feed. Once subscribed I rarely, if ever, go back to these sites. The one-shop-stop is your feedreader, or perhaps your iGoogle, Pageflakes, or Netvibes pages.
This conversation around aggregators started when Sarah Perez at the ReadWriteWeb wrote a piece on Breaking the Techmeme habit. I read Techmeme's feed daily. I very rarely click through to Techmeme, however. When I do, it's because I want to see what others are saying about something that has caught my interest. I visit Techmeme because I want to see the broader conversation. I don't do this very often. Apparently I'm not the only one who doesn't visit. A quick look at the site rankings on Alexa for Techmeme, and Topixnet, another popular aggregator, shows that their site visits are actually dropping. Do I think people aren't reading these sites anymore? Not at all. I think the drop corresponds to the broader adoption of syndication feeds.
I'll have a post show up on Techmeme every now and then. Perhaps this one will appear? You'd think that a link on Techmeme would generate a good deal of traffic. Nope! For me, Techmeme ranks 12th as a referring site. To provide some context, Twitter ranks 2nd, and sends eight times more people to this blog. That tells me that very few people are actually leaving their feed readers and clicking through. We see this same behavior all over the Web.
This begs the question as to a sustainable business model for aggregators. Got me! I'm glad I don't have to worry about making money on the Internet.