After eight years, I’ve decided to shutter the nptech.info website, which will also disable the @nptechinfo twitter feed that was derived from it. Obviously, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus have made RSS aggregation sites like nptech.info obsolete. Further, as Google ranks links from aggregators lower and lower on the optimization scale, it seems like I might be doing more harm than good by aggregating all of the nptech blogs there. It will be better for all if I spend my efforts promoting good posts on social media, rather than automatically populating a ghost town.
Long-time Techcafeterians will recall that NPTECH.INFO used to be a pretty cool thing. The history is as follows:
Around 2004, when RSS first started getting adopted on the web, a very cool site called Del.icio.us popped up. Delicious was a social bookmarking site, where you could save links with keywords and descriptions, and your friends could see what you were sharing (as well as the rest of the delicious userbase). Smart people like Marnie Webb and Marshall Kirkpatrick agreed that they would tag articles of interest to their peers with the label “nptech”. Hence, the origin of the term. They let about 50 friends know and they all fired up their newsreaders (I believe that Bloglines was state of the art back then — Google Reader was just a glimmer in some 20%er’s eye).
Understand, referring information by keyword (#hashtag) is what we are all doing all of the time now. But in 2005, it was a new idea, and Marnie’s group were among the first to see the potential.
I picked up on this trend in 2005. At lunch one day, Marnie and I agreed that a web site was the next step for our experiment in information referral. So I installed Drupal and registered the domain and have kept it running (which takes minimal effort) ever since. It got pretty useless by about 2009, but around that time I started feeding the links to the @nptechinfo Twitter account, and it had a following as well.
Yesterday, I received an email asking me to take down an article that included a link to a web site. It was an odd request — seemed like a very 2001, what is this world wide web thing? request: “You don’t have permission to link to our site”. Further digging revealed that these were far from net neophytes; they were SEO experts who understood that a click on the link from my aggregator was being misinterpreted by Google as a potential type of link fraud, thus impairing their SEO. I instantly realized that this could be negatively impacting all of my sources –and most of my sources are my friends in the nptech community.
There is probably some way that I could counter the Google assumption about the aggregator. But there are less than three visitors a day, on average. So, nptech.info is gone, but the community referring nptech information is gigantic and global. It’s no longer an experiment, it’s a movement. And it will long outlive its origins.