Monday, June 02, 2008 -- another way to "connect the dots" in the news

There is a relatively new concept for helping activists and journalists and concerned citizens keep up with news that concerns them. It is a site called (“Your Blend of the Web”) started in 2007 by Chris McGill. The site has some of the spirit of Digg and Reddit, but adds a feature that allows the visitor to see the news in specific subject matter areas of interest. These can be taken from a prescribed list (like “Tech”) or the visitor can spell out his own areas as one word (“globalwarming” or “DMCA”). I tried this with several areas (those two, as well as “internetsafety”) and got five stories on most of them, some familiar but some with new content. Generally, the stories come from reasonably well known news sites.

Visitors can also add content, although I did not try that yet.

Other major sites, like Yahoo! and CNN and of course Google allow visitors to tailor welcome screens to meet their interests.

There are well documented procedures for account holders to submit stories into Mixx and earn “karma points”. There are virtual lounges with “members” with links to their own content.

This is certainly valuable to me, in covering specific subject areas on my own blogs, and checking for new developments as they happen. A set of well selected keywords can indeed help the visitor “connect the dots” of the news in his or her own mind, and spot important problems (as with finance, particularly) before others see them. I can imagine that they could be useful in tracking potentially very dangerous news, like any future outbreak of something like avian influenza.

What remains to be added, after collecting the related stories about a particular topic, is the commentary on the significance of the stories, taken as a whole.

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