Or: backward-thinking, proprietary algorithm-toting, old-school scheming web start-up, backed by seemingly unnecessary gobs of money, pretends to re-invent the reBlog by enclosing its own version of an otherwise open-access algorithm in order to create a new (still in beta) news aggregator site called "Newser"; but according to some it is just, well, sort of less interesting really than various not-for-profit and maybe even artsy-fartsy things that have been around for quite a while.
Burned Once, but Starting Up Again
By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN
Published: August 6, 2007 [excerpt] ...additional links provided by newsgrist...
In his 1998 book "Burn Rate," the journalist Michael Wolff describes his misadventures in starting and abandoning a technology company in the 1990s. The book became a parable for an era and elevated the term in the title, which refers to the amount of money a company blows through each month above its revenue, into the popular lexicon.
Now, Mr. Wolff is throwing caution to the wind with a new Internet start-up, a Web site called newser.com that aggregates news articles for convenient reading.
The irony is not lost on Mr. Wolff, the media columnist for Vanity Fair. “I’m appalled by the prospect, frankly,” he joked, adding that he was moving forward “with enormous trepidation and self-loathing.”
Newser, which is in a test version and will not be finished until October, uses a proprietary algorithm to select "the day's most important and most talked about stories from the 100 top news sources," as the site puts it.
It highlights nine articles at once — from outlets as varied as The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Smoking Gun — with summaries and links to the original articles. The site says it will also override its algorithm to feature "overlooked points of view, angles and scoops." The editor, Caroline Miller, is a former editor of New York magazine and Seventeen.
Mr. Wolff is producing the site with Patrick Spain, chief executive of HighBeam Research, a digital research company that publishes encyclopedia.com. Mr. Spain, who is financing the newser.com site, was already thinking about starting something like newser.com when he and Mr. Wolff came together.
While Mr. Wolff said that hundreds of visitors with special access to the site have been viewing and critiquing it for months, it went live on Wednesday, and he did not expect bloggers to discover it so quickly.
"We’re in New Haven," he said, using the metaphor of a theatrical production that is staged elsewhere than New York to get the kinks out before opening on Broadway. “We’re in one of those Internet phases in which ideally no one quite notices we’re there.”
But gawker.com, the media-gossip site that tends to sharpen the hatchets at the mention of Mr. Wolff, did notice. "It's Yahoo! News without the exclamation point," Choire Sicha, managing editor of Gawker, wrote in an Aug. 2 post. "It’s the dullest thing I’ve seen all day, and I’ve been staring into a jar of pennies for the last half hour."[...]