Techmeme's biggest stories of 2011, literally, as measured by height
One of the best things about Techmeme is how "huge" or "big" stories can literally be that: conveyed through a stack of headlines several times taller than your screen size. (Unless you hate this, in which case it's one of the worst things, but moving on…) For our 2011 wrap up, for a change, we're going to ignore all our other, mostly invisible relevance metrics, and focus on this visible and nonmetaphorical type of "bigness". What follows are 2011's 25 biggest stories in terms of the number of headlines (not counting "Discussion") contained in Techmeme's clusters of related stories.
To elaborate on how we present the list: since Apple's announcement of a Verizon iPhone 4 sat atop a 12-story cluster focused on that news, it appears in the 10th position of our table, behind taller story clusters, but ahead of shorter ones.
What do the "biggest" tech stories tell us about 2011? First, it was a year of resignation and loss. In particular, the loss of Steve Jobs, which played out in three dramatic stages, beginning with his medical leave in January, escalating with his resignation as CEO in August, and culminating with his passing in October, which unsurprisingly tops our list. What don't the biggest stories tell us? Very little about financing trends and IPOs, the security breaches and leaks, the policy challenges, talent wars, and other issues that factored heavily this past year. Even as the importance of the startup grew profoundly in 2011, only Apple and a few other titans of tech could reliably marshal the attention the entire industry.