Memeorandum Beats Google News
Gabe Rivera’s Memorandum, a favorite of bloggers almost from its inception, has gotten some love fromThe Guardian.
If you want to know what’s happening in the world, then Memorandum will tell you — at least in a couple of areas. It’s an automated news clipping service, known in the trade as a “news aggregator”. It provides headlines and short texts updated every few minutes, with links to the original sites, much like Google News.
Memeorandum is based on the idea of “memes” or ideas that spread across the web (along with a pun on memorandum). Someone publishes an interesting story, other people find it, discuss it, and link to it. That’s how the web works. Small stories come and go quickly, while big ones generate lots of comment and dominate the page for hours.
The developer, Gabe Rivera, says it’s all done in software. He provides a list of publications as “seeds,” but the software still finds stories on sites he’s never heard of. It’s just a question of following links, and then trying to assess the contents. The algorithms are, obviously, secret.
Google also follows links and assesses content, but Memeorandum is embarrassingly better than Google News. Google reckons that the more coverage a story gets, the more important it is. Unfortunately, broad coverage takes a long time to develop, so Google News can run hours or even a day behind Memeorandum. This is fine for casual consumers, but if you’re a news junkie — or a journalist — it’s hopeless.
I’ve been using Memeorandum almost since its beginning in September 2005 and, indeed, found this story there. I still use Google News and Yahoo News for finding specific stories, especially European news, but Memeorandum has long been my first stop to see what stories people are buzzing about.