Boris Anthony, our good friend and Global Voices’ beloved graphic designer/toolsmith, recently offered this observation: “….In the last 6 months, I have not worked on a single ‘weblog': it's all been various types of aggregators.”
As blogging becomes mainstream around the world and journalists, corporations, politicians and non-governmental organizations join individuals in maintaining blogs, the cool kids are going a step farther and playing with tools that aggregate content from a set of weblogs and publish it on a new blog.
Like the term “weblog”, the term “aggregator” means different things to different people. Over the past two years, many blog fans have been using desktop software aggregators, like NetNewsWire or NewsGator, to subscribe to multiple blogs. Recent versions of the Firefox Browser have included an aggregator, using a feature Firefox calls “Live Bookmarks”.
As well as desktop aggregators, a huge number of web-based blog aggregators have emerged, including Bloglines and NewsILike. (The wikipedia page listing desktop and web-based aggregators is overwhelming, listing several dozen options.)
These aggregators were designed to make it easier for a single user to follow dozens of weblogs she'd decided to subscribe to. The new generation of aggregators Boris refers to have a different purpose – they're single websites that automatically summarize dozens or hundreds of blogs, organized by topic, interest or region, for a wider audience, not just for the person maintaining the aggregator.
At Global Voices, we're particularly interested in aggregators that give a view of a country or a region, like our friend Haitham Sabbah's Arablog, which selectively “reblogs” content from around the Middle East. Isam Bayazidi's Jordan Planet – which just celebrated its first birthday – began as an aggregator of five Jordanian blogs and now covers 39 brilliant bloggers from the Hashemite Kingdom. And our Tunisian friends have a rich, trilingual – French, English and Arabic – aggregator which showcases over sixty blogs from Tunisia and Tunisians living abroad.
Our friends in the Middle East aren't the only ones embracing the aggregator trend. Across the Atlantic, bloggers in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico have started a regional blog aggregator, MTYBlogs. And complementing the BlogAfrica aggregator, Nigerian bloggers have come together to offer the Nigerian Blog Aggregator, which boasts 600 posts from 64 sources. Let's hope the rich Kenyan blogopshere gets in the act soon…
If you know of other nationwide or regional blog aggregators, please let us know by leaving a comment on this post. And, needless to say, if you're looking for new blogs to link to for World Blog Day, these aggregators are a great place to start.