So Aggregating

A good number of people have welcomed to the Virginia blogosphere two recent entries in the aggregator list: Conservativa, Jane Dudley’s collection of conservative blogs, and the ODBA Aggregator, maintained by yours truly as a one-stop-shop for the Old Dominion Blog Alliance blogroll. Many have been very nice about it (and thank you all) and a couple, particularly from the other side of the aisle, have added disclaimers of sorts, both of which caution about the “daily me”.

Anyone who has read J’s Notes for a period of time has seen me drop the term “daily me” before. Coined (as I found it) by Cass Sustein in his book “”, the “daily me” refers to an increasing instance of people using the Internet to limit their exposure to competing ideas, instead only reading the websites and blogs that present what they want to hear.

Does Conservativa and the ODBA Aggregator feed into this?

Thomas Krehbiel fears so:

As an evangelizing tool, I’m not quite sure what the point of a conservative-only or liberal-only aggregator is. People who subscribe to them are either going to be converted already or looking for a fight. If you want to reach a new audience and perhaps sway moderates to vote differently, which seems to be the entire purpose of politics, I would think you’d want to be involved in a more non-partisan aggregator.

Granted. But you’re assuming that these tools are meant for evangelizing purposes. I can’t speak for Conservativa, but the ODBA Aggregator exists more as a service to the ODBA members than anyone else. I for one wanted to have a way to view all the ODBA blogs without having to visit twenty-some-odd sites and without having to wade through BlogNetNews to get to it (BNN does have an ODBA option). If others choose to visit the ODBA for reading the member blogs, great, more power to them. But it was ultimately created as an extension of the ODBA community more than a tool for converting individuals.

Jack commented over at Waldo’s blog:

This whole business of conservative versus liberal blog aggregators isn’t a good thing. It will eventually lead to each group going off into it’s own corner with it’s own kind and never seeing what the other side has to say. We are all better off being confronted with opposing opinions every day. It keeps us all sharp and agile.

I don’t think the fear is justified, but I certainly agree with the last couple points, that opposing opinions are a good thing to have and view. I don’t believe Jane intends for Conservativa and I certainly don’t intend for the ODBA Aggregator to replace VAPoliticalBlogs or BlogNetNews, simply to supplement them.

The left has had many means of limiting their message and building their community for years within the blogosphere, whether it’s through LeftyBlogs or DailyKos or Raising Kaine. Now that the right is catching up through creating its own community, people are going to start critiquing. And that’s fine. I just hope that the same people are willing to take the came critical view of their end of things.

UPDATE: On a side note, the ODBA Aggregator has had a good number of hits from all over the place in the two days since it’s activation. An audience exists, and I’m more than happy to provide them a site to peruse.

Thomas Krehbiel also made a good point in his post:

I wish the new aggregators would put the name of the underlying blog in the post titles. A newcomer might not realize that the posts are all coming from disparate sources and authors. Maybe that’s by design.

Unfortunately, the platform that the ODBA Aggregator runs off of limits my ability to tweak how the posts appear. If I do get the ability to change that, blog titles will be more prominently placed with respect to the post. But this also highlights one of my issues with BNN in that when you click on the blog’s name over a post you aren’t taken to the blog but to BNN’s listing of that blog’s posts. I think it’d be nice if clicking on the blog’s name took you straight to the blog, but that could be a limitation of their software.

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