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African News/Blog Aggregation Gets Crowded

Afrigator LogoAfrigator launched today, an excellent new website dedicated to aggregating blog posts from Africa. It joins the ranks of 1-year old Muti, 1-month old Amatomu, and 1-week old Mashada.

Afrigator (clever word play on aggregator) is the product of two stars from the South African blogosphere and tech community, Mike Stopforth and Justin Hartman. I was fortunate enough to have spoken with them about their upcoming launch last week, but didn’t realize just how soon it was coming! So, first of all congrats on the super-fast launch. Another shout-out goes to Mark Forrester on the design, it looks brilliant.

How is it Different?
The first question everyone has to ask is what they are doing differently in order to get market share. Arguably, Muti has the most pan-African attention at this point and Amatomu has the most South African attention.

The first answer is “Channels“. This is the big thing that has been missing and needed to be addressed. Muti has struggled to be more than just a South African aggregator because that’s the part of Africa that has claimed it (plus the domain URL). Amatomu is great for South Africans, but doesn’t tend to reach the greater part of Africa. Amotomu is very new however, and their .com domain name means they might have bigger plans than just South Africa (Vincent?).

Every blogger chooses a country when they sign up. That country then becomes a new channel on Afrigator (brilliantly mechanism. However, they’re missing a big section of the African blogosphere – there needs to be a channel for African diaspora in the US, Europe, Asia, etc…). Readers can then sort the normal Afrigator results by the country they care about hearing from.

Second, the ability to give a 5-point rating to posts. This works much like Muti in that the best content rises to the top. I wonder if they have built into their system an algorithm that tracks the overall quality of specific bloggers? That might be too controversial though.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I’m extremely impressed with Afrigator. They’ve started a great thing here, and I can only see them doing better as time passes.

One thing that I don’t like about what both Amatomu and Afrigator are doing though is that you have to embed their code within your own website. I realize that the data mining from that is a HUGE opportunity for them, but personally I don’t like it. I’d like to see them do measurement on a more non-intrusive basis.

Afrigator Screenshot

12 Comments

  1. Awesome write up Hash! Thanks for the mention.

    It’s awesome to see how quickly the news of Afrigator has flown around the blogosphere, and how well accepted it has been.

  2. Hash – I don’t think this market can get crowded. You have to realize aggregators are basically mash-ups, and some like to do it a little differently from others. There is so much information to read out there, and organizing it in different ways makes it more sensible to particular groups of people.

    I think we’ll see a lot more mash-ups as time goes by. Afrigator is pretty awesome – and the integration with a membership system guarantees everyone a chance to give their blog 15 minutes of fame.

    I’ve always been pretty impressed with Muti which works like Digg – and I think the African Continent needs more and more ways to get this trapped information out. Ultimately, we now have a voice!

  3. How does one get their blog listed on Mashada?

  4. great post

    other than the channels thing, i dont think there is much of a market for a ‘pan african’ aggregator.

    best blog stories after all tend to be very local

  5. i use google to “aggragate” my fav blogs

    reason? just can’t beat simplicity and lack of clutter

  6. Thanks for an excellent initial review Hash. Valid concerns and criticism, but some wonderful compliments too. We are certainly not in the business of competing with Muti – we love the existing service, don’t see any crossovers and want to compliment it. So we’re strongly reviewing the merit of voting on posts. However we may well consider implementing author votes… We’ll see where that goes 🙂

    Re: your last point. I’m not the techie so accept my slowness. Afrigator will always be an opt-in service and users will always have control over whether we aggregate their content or not. Yes, we are mining valuable data, but we hope that the value we offer balances the intrusion required. Plus we hope to use that data to improve the state of the blogosphere for everyone, especially from an awareness point of view.

  7. Thanks for this post Hash.

    As David stated, I agree that there is room for creation of inventions as this. What matters is how each entity differentiates itself. In addition, the emergence of Afrigator (and those before it) helps keep the creative juice flowing. So expect more in the nearest future.

    Hat-tip to the brains behind these developments.

    My observations:

    There is room for more verticals, especially one that categorizes on subject matter – politics, business, technology etc.

    Generally, I don’t buy the much-talked about rating functionality; I’ve never believed strongly in their fidelity, after all Digg – the originator of this system, has demonstrated it’s prone to abuse.

  8. Well said Imnakoya. It will be interesting to see how things work out. Will it be more of the best rising to the top or a matter of everyone getting some market share. I think the entry of Afrigator does spice things up a bit.

    What I am looking forward to is more online solutions from other countries. Where is Mali or Angola? That would be nice. Or is it that they are there but non-English sites?

  9. Hash, great write up. I can’t add anything further to what Mike said in his post but I have to re-iterate that we’re not trying to compete with either Muti or Amatomu.

    I’ve already discussed it with the parties concerned and we all agree that collaboration in this can only benefit the community so here’s hoping for a good relationship with them.

  10. Hmmm…lots of folks are in the same train of thought on Africa blog aggregators.

    It will be very interesting to see where the Africa blogosphere will be in 2 more years. If conventional media channels are not able to adapt to the demands of todays reading audience my prediction is that the Africa bloggers will more than fill the void.

    Has, excellent write up!

  11. I beg to differ that “African News/Blog Aggregation gets crowded”. The voices of Africans needs to be amplified around the world, and the more, the merrier.

    I am not worried because I know, only the best will ultimately survive. So let the race begin! 🙂

  12. manuel iglesias

    April 6, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Nowdays, Spain is the main entrace for african legal
    and mainly ilegal,for necessity matters to go into Europe. The people who want to work they concentrate at cities or on the coast to look for it.
    Today in spain the rural areas at the mountains, specially in Andalusia are objectives of development for the European Union, and what is more, people are nicer with foreigner on these areas. It´s just a tip for my african friends.

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