Last Sunday I was sitting in church when I felt my BlackBerry buzz. I quickly and discreetly checked to see if it was anything important. Indeed, it was a message from Guy Kawasaki letting me know my site was included in Alltop. At first I was floored, because Guy Kawasaki is a well-known figure in the tech world and it's cool to receive an email from him. Second, Alltop is a prestigious content aggregator.
I later explored Alltop more thoroughly and discovered that Guy expanded the focus from 20+ blogs to 350+ blogs, including many more niche categories (such as technical writing) than the first version of his site.
Guy markets Alltop as a magazine rack in which you can read content from any category. For example, suppose you want to know more about children's literature, but you're not an expert in this field. You have little recourse outside of Google in finding good books for your kids. But going to Alltop, you can explore the top 35 blogs in the children's literature category, and voila, you're suddenly swimming in just the information you need. When you're unfamiliar with the topic, Alltop does an excellent job at pointing you in the right direction.
Here's a diagram from Guy comparing the use of Google versus Alltop.
I asked Guy how he could compile the top blogs in a niche category without having expertise in the category. He said a technical writer selected the blogs to include. This makes sense to me, and while I don't agree 100% with the selections, I'd say at least three quarters of them are on target. I recommended to Guy that he make a few adjustments, and he did. Now I'm in the acknowledgments section too -- click the Acknowledgment link below the title.
From a larger perspective, Alltop is another example of someone wrestling with the sea of information online, trying to tag and categorize it to make it useful. Alltop isn't alone in this attempt. Popurls.com, digg.com, rssmeme.com, and reddit.com are other attempts at content aggregation. And of course my Writer River site is another effort to aggregate content.
Alltop excels when you're unfamiliar with the topic. But if you're an expert in the topic, you may find it a little limiting. Thirty five blogs is hardly enough blogs to watch, in my opinion. When I read blogs, I find interesting content by subscribing to as many tech writing blogs as possible, and then scanning down the titles. The more blogs I subscribe to, the higher my probability of finding relevant content. (See my "Selection Beats Damping" post for more details on ratios.)
One last note. You may be checking Alltop to see if your blog is listed. If it is, and you didn't get an email from Guy, consider making yourself more accessible. If you look at my contact page, I provide several ways for people to contact me. I put my email out there for all to see, as well as my Google Talk, Twitter, and cell phone information. Allowing people to easily contact me is one of my 20 usability suggestions for blogs. (Gmail does a good job at filtering out spam.)
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.