Tis the season for annual recaps and retrospectives. And while most such lists stem from a blogger’s yearning for page views during the otherwise-quiet holiday season, some lists are actually interesting — even useful.
One such list comes from Techmeme, one of the best tech news aggregators on the web, which releases an annual overview of the year’s top stories. The site typically generates the list using a variety of secret-sauce algorithms, but this year they’ve done something a bit more straightforward: they measured how tall each story was on the site. The bigger the story, the more important it probably was. You can find the full list right here.
For those that don’t frequent the site, Techmeme arranges stories in clusters — you’ll typically see the most important story (oftentimes the post that broke the news) at the top, with more headlines nested beneath it with additional details and analysis. Many stories don’t get a subheadline at all, but the big ones often have two, three — or, in the case of the absolute biggest stories of the year, over a dozen. Which leads to a larger screen footprint, hence Techmeme’s more literal interpretation when it analyzes its ‘biggest stories’.
Apple has the most appearances on the list, taking up seven of the top twenty five slots. Unfortunately, half of these were related to Steve Jobs’ decreasing role at Apple and ultimately the sad news of his death on October 5, at the age of 56 — which is rightfully marked as the most significant story of the year. Apple’s other appearances on the list include the launch of the iPhone 4S, iOS5, and iCloud, the iPad 2, and the launch of Subscriptions in the App Store.
The rest of the list is largely rounded out by news from other tech giants, including Facebook’s launch of Timeline, Twitter’s New New Twitter, Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia, and the failed AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
In fact, only one startup appears on the list: Color, the much-maligned company that raised $41 million only to have its initial product bomb (it relaunched with a new version last month). Another outlier was Egypt’s decision to shut down the Internet last January, which is number 22 on the list.
You may also be interested in TechCrunch’s own 2011 recap, which unsurprisingly features many of the same stories.
Image by Redjar
TechMeme works by constantly checking blogs and other news sites to create a page full of the current most popular tech news links. The list of sites TechMeme monitors is constructed automatically and changes in real time based on linking. A small “seeding” list, constructed by creator Gabe Rivera, is used to help the system build the complete list. Stories are placed based on their importance. Importance depends on a number of factors, including links and how old the story...