Column: Custom news websites come and go, but this one gets it right.
The flow of information on the Internet is like an ocean current – too powerful for any one person to handle. But since 1996 or so, many Internet entrepreneurs and media companies have dreamed of controlling that information to suit individual tastes.
Many have tried to find a way to personalize the news and deliver it only to those who are really interested. For me, an ideal newscast would include politics, Canada, the Boston Red Sox, and clog dancing (but that’s another story).
Sadly, the Internet highway is littered with the rusting hulks of various attempts to personalize the news over the past decade. None of them generated a real head of steam. The effort, however, did take a big step forward with the creation of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and aggregators that allowed you to “subscribe” to newssites and blogs.
But critics of personalization argue that the whole concept is flawed – that by only focusing on news that people want to read, the public would miss out on important stories. I even recall one critic writing that personalized news could be a threat to democracy – that by allowing people to focus on their own interests, it would be difficult to inform them on issues that they had in common.
But lately I’ve become intrigued with DailyMe.com, a website that attempts to answer both critics and adherents of personalization. The top of the site’s homepage has three tabs: Top News, My Daily Me, and – a new social networking wrinkle – Daily We.
Top News is just what it says it is – news that the site’s editors consider to be the top stories of the day. My Daily Me is what you want to know about – Red Sox and clog dancing in my case. Daily We is the site’s effort to encourage users to recommend stories to each other – think Digg.com with a twist.