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BuzzFeed: ‘Blogging to get a better buzz?

the BuzzFeed logoBuzzFeed distinguishes between what is actually interesting and what is merely hyped.” On the one hand, it’s good to see the human touch at work, but one man’s hype is often another man’s hot topic.

OK, tongue-in-cheek sensationalism aside, I’m not trying to spin this whole thing as something bad, because from the looks of what BuzzFeed is saying, these guys have the makings of a good service. One which I myself would enjoy a moment or two within the confines of.

Firstly, as a tool of reconnaissance, the ‘standard issue Mk1 eyeball’ (as the British SAS might say) is difficult to beat. So spotting the odd / good / hot stuff is still the domain of the human and not a few lines of code. Or at least not the for time being.

Second, with having some kind of human element, might I suggest some of the perils associated with that kind of thing? Like editorial bias, missing a top story or two, or even the censorship of content to meet with certain political persuasions.

However, I must point out that the above concerns are not restricted to the likes of BuzzFeed. They’re possible issues for most others, too.

Actually, I’m pleased to see there’s a balance between lines of code and human action.

“When something we are tracking gets especially popular, we bring it back to the front page…”

Now, is that done by hand or is it something akin to the likes of Digg? Whereby user action (or in this case, more people talking about a given topic) brings the story back.

“We automatically detect new buzz by crawling 50,000 of the very best web sites, blogs, and news sources.”

So BuzzFeed isn’t just about ‘blogging, its aim is high and wide. But what is telling is that we’re starting to see ‘blogging mentioned in the same breath as news.

Now some (the cynical among you .. you know who you are!) might argue that it’s the quality of the news that has dropped rather than the quality of ‘blogging that’s increased.

I’d say the truth lies somewhere on the in between. And over the next few years, there won’t be any dividing line between news coverage and ‘blogging .. but that’s another story!

So once a hot story finds its merry way into BuzzFeed, they scour the ‘Net for the best related sources:

“Our trend pages link to the most interesting commentary, videos, news articles, and debate — so you can track a movie, band, person, or idea as it grows in popularity. For each item on BuzzFeed, you can watch the number of links grow as we link to more people fueling the buzz on their own sites and blogs.”

So new news begets commentary and opinion which in turn begets more news, such is the recursive nature of the web.

I found this story on the excellent Micro Persuasion ‘blog, run by Steve Rubel. One comment made by Pete Dunn on the article made me smile:

“Just what I need .. another tracker to chase. I guess I can learn to sleep 15 minutes less everyday.”

As Pete has mentioned, BuzzFeed is yet another social web service to chase .. unless you’re big enough that they chase you!

As always, the the floor is open to make comments…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.