What the People Want

I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I’m working (part time, now) on a project called The Personal Bee. It’s an attempt to come up with a way of collecting and presenting RSS feeds from news sites and blogs, then giving folks (“beekeepers” — or editors) a way of repackaging the feeds and creating their own news editions (or “Bees”). There’s a lot of other functionality built in that makes the service potentially very cool: a comment feature, a way to email stories to friends, and a tool so that you can write and add your own copy to the edition. At this point, I don’t believe you’ll find anything on The Personal Bee that you can’t find, in some form, someplace else. I think what distinguishes the site/service — beyond the Bee metaphor, upon which I can hold forth at length — is the range of functionality available at one place.

Without getting into the founders’ hopes and dreams about who might use the Bee and what for, I’ll just say it’s got some serious news thinking behind it. Given that highfalutin background, it’s fascinating to see in what the early Bee audience is actually interested. We’ve got more than 130 public editions, everything ranging from venture capital to new media to the Iraq war to baseball and videogames. So which editions are most popular? The top ten include five that sound like they’re good for you — venture capital, Web 2.0, a left-right opinion collection, a tech news roundup, and “headline news” — and five that are pure fluff: YouTube (by far the most visited), reality TV, “Survivor” (the TV show), indie music, and general movie stuff.

The edition that focuses on Iraq? It’s about the 100th most popular.

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My Beautiful Blogette

I’d love to be able to say I’m above being self-conscious about this, My Beautiful Blogette (as an aside, try the following as a one-evening Daniel Day-Lewis triple bill: “Last of the Mohicans,” “A Room with a View,” and “My Beautiful Laundrette”).

Alas, I am self-conscious, mostly about the recent attenuation of the previous steady stream of smart, not to say indispensable, Infospigot observations about the world both in and around my navel. I mean to say I haven’t been posting a lot the last few weeks.

The principal reason: I’m spending lots of time working on The Personal Bee, the little Web publishing startup I signed on with in January. We just launched our live test site (beta for those in the software development world), and there’s lots and lots of refinement to do. Nearly all of The Personal Bee work is online, and often the last thing I want to do is sit down in the evening (or early in the morning) and start tapping away at the keyboard some more. So that’s why you’re seeing more pictures and less of the brilliant dissection of reality that has come to typify work associated with this site.

For now, anyway. The Bee is a startup project with startup funding, and it has emerged at a time when everyone and his Uncle Moe has decided that Web news-and-information sites represent a business opportunity. We’ll see (and I’ll write more about the Bee later, too).