Important Stories Are Hard to Find (Part 2: 4 Reasons the World Needs Infobitt)
Reason #2. The most important stories of the day are hard to find. Look at CNN.com, FoxNews.com, even NYTimes.com. I frequently find myself disagreeing with what they have as their top stories and disgusted at too much clickbait, emotionally manipulative stories, and other time-wasters. It’s even worse on primetime news broadcasts. (So, I’m agreeing with Bill Maher.) And then of course there’s the fact that newsrooms are generally limited in what they can cover, and they’re going to lead with whatever story they’re most proud of or they think will get the most clicks. Of course, they won’t lead with a very important story if they aren’t covering it themselves.
Aggregators like Google News do a better job of hitting all the highlights than the news sources themselves. But even there, there are problems. Some stories—the admittedly important ones—stay up for a couple of days, long after we’ve heard about them. Also, sometimes, the big stories of the day are far down on Google News one day, only to make it to the Top Stories the next. Journalists are a special breed (for whom, again, I have great respect); what they choose to write about sometimes represents a judgment, or taste, that many of the rest of us don’t share. Many journalists indulge in sensationalism; they seem to be drawn to dramatic stories which have little to no chance of making any difference in the world. The stories are just dramatic. Too often, our time is wasted—and that’s true even when journalists’ work is aggregated together.
Infobitt works differently. It matters how how many people participate, but it doesn’t take many. When we have over, say, 15 bitt writers and 30 people ranking the news, then in my opinion we typically do better than the aforementioned sites when it comes to picking and ranking the stories that matter. These numbers shouldn’t be that surprising. There aren’t that many “top stories” candidates at any moment; based on my experience on Infobitt, I estimate the number is not much more than 50. Then how many people does it really take to summarize the basics of that number of stories, and to rank them in order of real importance? Again, not that many.
With on the order of 100-500 active daily users—still not many—we’ll produce something that has never existed. We’ll have an exhaustive, non-redundant, beautifully ranked set of news stories, complete with excellent and well-fleshed-out summaries from many sources, updated all the time.
Already the news on Infobitt is usually pretty fresh. We aim now to make it fresh all of the time and to have covered all the main stories in a timely fashion. Do you want that? Join us and help make it happen! If we haven’t covered an important story yet, please add it. In our system, it’s called a “bitt.” And we always need people ranking new bitts, giving their opinion of whether a story belongs in the top 10 in Top Stories (or a category of interest).
About the author
I call myself an "Internet Knowledge Organizer." I started Wikipedia.org, Citizendium.org, WatchKnowLearn.org, ReadingBear.org, and Infobitt. I write about education and the Internet from a broadly philosophical point of view.