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Blogs of the World, Aggregate!

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 , these aggregators are a great place to start.

14 comments

  • There is also the Anthropology Newspaper – an aggregated list of Anthropology news feeds

  • Have a good BlogDay!

  • World Blog Day

  • Thanks for talking abou Tunisian Blogpshere , we are glad seeing that our litle group of group have spreaded the voice through this cruel world !

  • I also wanted to mention that I’ve been testing an alpha-release of Feedlounge which I believe will blow away most of the competition for online aggregator services once it is released. There will be both a free and a paid version.

  • It’s not surprising that aggregation is catching on, it is getting harder to keep up with so many blogs – particularly when many of them aren’t updated frequently, and it’s hard to be “alerted” of new content. It’s one of the major benefits of LiveJournal’s “Friends page” feature, as well as the threaded comments LJ allows.

    To try and help people follow just the UAE ones, I created a UAE community blog with a Blogroll down the side, which is much easier to keep updated than having to edit the overall template, or maintain a blog guide, which I had also tried.

    I also created an aggregation at Bloglines of all the active UAE blogs I could find.

    RSS makes things easier, but I still don’t think the perfect solution has yet been made for UAE bloggers. I’ll definitely be checking out the other links here.

  • I think aggregation is a nice tool, Ethan, but the aggregator means nothing without the weblogs themselves.

    The truth is that most sites running Content Management Systems have the ability built in for aggregation. KnowProSE.com aggregates content that I think suitable, and does so automatically. It’s been doing that for about a year. Yet, the role of KnowProSE.com isn’t really regional – and so the aggregator isn’t regional.

    Frankly, I could set up Drupal to cover aggregation using categories, and do it such that it’s done in a way that overlaps were handled. So I don’t get the aggregator buzz.

  • I don’t think the buzz is a technical one, Taran – you’re right, this has been possible for a while. I’m excited because I’m seeing people start to build public aggregators and realize that there’s an art to maintaining a good, readable aggregator, just as there’s an art to blogging…

  • Ethan,
    Thanks for the interesting information provided.
    I have created a group RSS –
    RONews
    – for the Romanian
    Weblogs Collection
    which is listed on
    this HTML page.
    Also maybe

    my note
    on systems which create group RSS could interest.
    Thanks,
    Carmen

  • Kenyan Pundit

    Ethan, the Kenyan aggregator has been up and running for a while. Here’s the link http://daily.nchiyetu.com (still a work in progress).

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