2007-06-08

Decentralized News (aka the decline of the interesting)

Back in the day (which was a Wednesday, btw), you only had a few good sources for tech information online. You had news groups (like comp.lang.*, etc), a few websites (like slashdot) and you had mailing lists. You knew many of the people you read, and felt very much like a part of a community. Even without the rose colored glasses, it was a different time. The landscape of the interesting was very different. Today you have thousands of sites including news aggregators like digg, you have countless mailing lists and you have more blogs then you can possibly read (such as this one). More and more though, I find that the best "news" and information comes from individual blogs. The problem is, and always has been, that authors (particularly bloggers) don't consistently write interesting articles. For instance, I like reading Martin Fowler's blog however I only really enjoy about 1/2 the articles. There are a number of blogs that fall into the same category. So, as what you find relevant and interesting with respect to your life becomes decentralized, where do you go for news? How do you parse through and filter out all the cruft that you find without taking up too much of your time? I love netvibes, but I still have to read all the headlines and summaries to determine if I want to read an article or not. Services like digg are useful, but only in finding out what my "peers" (I use the term loosely) find interesting. Today Blogstorm was launched which tracks "what's hot" in the blogosphere based on the number of links to a blog entry over some period of time. There I'm sure are other services like this, but I particularly like this one. What would be useful is if they tracked which entries you clicked on, and recommended stories based on those trends. More uniformly, I'm surprised that there isn't a web service (xmlrpc, soap, etc) that provides a generalized recommendations mechanism for sites and users. It wouldn't have to be very sophisticated to be useful. If anyone knows of such a service, let me know.

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