A while back Mark Cuban, tech entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, blogged about his two favourite technology magazines: one was about the broadband marketplace (www.screenplaysmag.com) while the other was the title Communications Technology (www.cable360.net/ct/). The thing I like most about this blog entry was that I'd never heard of either site/magazine, and given that the recommendation came from Cuban (www.blogmaverick.com), who is himself a compelling read, I (rightly) figured they'd be worth adding to my reading list.
Not that I needed any more reading sources -- my RSS reader (if a blog/web site doesn't offer an RSS feed these days, I simply don't read it) has over 100 feeds and normally a backlog of articles in the thousands. As such, I'm in the process of culling my reading list to something of more manageable proportions. Before I do that, however, I thought I'd offer my own recommendations. Herewith, then, are the first five of my top-10 tech blogs and information sources, in no particular order. The second batch will be dispatched in a coming column.
TECHDIRT: There are a whole bunch of players that churn out scores of stories per day via a team of reporters, the online equivalent of the quickly-fading IT trade press. They all tend to cover the same stories, all reasonably well, so you really only need one of these on your list. Some of the sites in this category include Om Malik's GigaOM, The Register, Ars Technica, and Tech Crunch. However, the one that I tend to use most is Techdirt (www.techdirt.com), mainly because I find it provides more analysis and context to its stories. The Register would be a candidate, especially as it's not US-centric like the others, but it's not at all friendly towards RSS readers so doesn't make the list.
O'REILLY RADAR: Many will have heard of O'Reilly through its books and conferences and may also be aware that founder Tim O'Reilly is credited with coining the term Web 2.0. As you'd expect, the publishing company has a great online presence and practices what it preaches when it comes to social networking and blogging. While there are numerous blogs available on its site, the one I turn to most is its Radar blog (at radar.oreilly.com), which has a range of contributors and is especially strong on its coverage of Web 2.0, social networking themes and emerging technologies. In their own words, "we draw from the wisdom of the alpha geeks in our midst, paying attention to what's interesting to them, amplifying these weak signals, and seeing where they fit into the innovation ecology."
TELCO 2.0: If you want insights into future telco business models, then go no further than the Telco 2.0 blog (www.telco2.net/blog), which is produced by research and analysis firm STL Partners. Their Telco 2.0 initiative aims to look at how the telecom industry can make money in an IP world and includes regular brainstorming sessions and conferences around the same theme. While there are some obvious plugs for the conferences and research products, there's also a lot of good information and tidbits from their research results as well as commentary on telco news. Incidentally, I came across this site thanks to the Telepocalypse.net blog of Martin Geddes, who is now part of STL Partners. While Telepocalypse is not updated as often as it was in the past, it's still worth a read.
SCRAWFORD.NET: If policy and regulatory matters matter, then try Susan Crawford's blog at scrawford.net. Crawford is on the ICANN board of directors and also teaches Internet and communications law at Yale Law School. Typical topics on the Crawford beat include an in-depth look at the 700MHz spectrum auctions in the US; discussions around network neutrality; goings-on at ICANN and the implications of filtering/blocking. It's telecom regulatory issues through the rigourous mind of a legal practitioner.
SILICON ALLEY INSIDER: Remember Henry Blodget? He was the high-flying securities analyst at Merrill Lynch during the heady days before the dot-com crash who later was charged with securities fraud when things went pair-shaped. Whatever you think of the guy, he's certainly abreast of what's happening in the digital world and you can now catch up with his regular analysis at Silicon Alley Insider (www.alleyinsider.com). Blodget is one of the three founders of the site/blog, which was started last year and seems to be expanding rapidly, with commentators from the likes of Forbes and Variety added to the roster. It's a site that goes well beyond straight news and a must-have on any high-tech reading list.