As the era of giant social networks begins to fade, media outlets that cover tech are looking to their past to navigate a complicated future, reviving formats and features that they'd long ceded to larger platforms.
Driving the news: This week Vox Media's The Verge redesigned its home page around a Twitter-like feed. Earlier this year, The Information began offering its subscribers a private social network.
The big picture: Since the web began, sites devoted to tech coverage have led the way in pushing innovations in the aggregation and distribution of news online — from Slashdot in the late '90s to the blog wars between Gizmodo and Engadget in the mid 2000s to the popular embrace of Reddit and Hacker News in the 2010s.
These sites and services all understood that tech news devotees wanted their information fast, with the newest stories highlighted. They wanted it linked, so they could compare different versions from different outlets. And they wanted to be able to connect with the journalists covering their favorite topic.
Now, though, Facebook is de-emphasizing news and Twitter's future has grown cloudy, leading tech news outlets to try to reclaim their direct relationships with readers.
The Verge's new home page offers a Twitter-style feed of news tidbits curated by the site's editors and reporters, mixed in with the usual links to its own stories.
The Information earlier this year launched a series of networking features on its site, including a Reddit-like news feed (with up- and down-ranking for articles), direct messaging and a directory.
Between the lines: The outlets that cover tech and the audience that follows them are at home with a decentralized culture of linkage and aggregation that goes back to the early days of blogging and RSS.
Yes, but: The innovators of tech journalism were always better at coming up with faster tools for surfacing and sharing links than at figuring out how to turn a profit.
What to watch: Aggregators operated by actual newsrooms offer professional audiences something they can’t get on Twitter — professional curation.

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