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chris dixon

The referenced Chris Dixon here. Interesting argument. I'm not sure we disagree. I was really just trying to debunk the argument I saw frequently that: Google must be helping - otherwise why not noindex your site.

I think your argument includes the premise that aggregators increase the pie (total traffic to news sites). I'm not sure that's the case.

Nico Flores


Thanks for your comment. I don't think my argument assumes that aggregators (singly or as a group)increase the pie. The only assumption is that aggregators are (singly) in a position to take traffic away form newspapers; but that doesn't mean that they created any of this traffic (singly or as a group).

To clarify this, I think there are two different things here:

1. If a given aggregator were to stop linking to a given publisher, would the publisher stand to lose a lot more than the aggregator?

2. Does a given aggregator increase the pie available to it and a given publisher?

I think (1) is generally true, even if (2) is not -- that is, aggregators are individually strong vis-a-vis publishers even if they don't increase the pie.

To see this, imagine a world with 20 aggregators, each with a 5% market share. If one of them went out of business, most of its users would go to one of the remaining 19 aggregators, all of which would continue sending people to newspapers as usual. So newspapers wouldn't notice any change, which means that the pie wasn't increased by the marginal aggregator. However, if the same aggregator stopped linking to a given newspaper (instead of going out of business), the newspaper would experience a 5% drop in its aggregator traffic (by the argument in my post).

In other words: _given_ that there are aggregators out there, and assuming that there is a segment of the audience that relies on them, then any aggregator is in a position to hurt a newspaper at almost no cost to itself.

Yes, there's a second assumption here - namely that once people are in the habit of relying on aggregators they'd rather switch between aggregators than go back to newspapers' front pages. This could be because aggregators either (a) just stole some of the pie from newspapers, (b) increased the pie, or (c) a mixture of the two. Which of the three it is doesn't matter for the strategic picture, but it may matter in the blame game.

I may get around to writing a new post with all these points - I can see that the one above isn't clear on them.


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