Looks like the hamster is going to be ok

All reports seem to indicate that Richard Hammond is well on the mend which is a big relief to any fan of Top Gear.

Related to this, I noticed something very interesting on the BBC web-site over the past few days when checking up on him. All of the headlines are obviously decided by editors and news experts and reflect what they think are the pressing issues of the day e.g. various Iranian or Venezuelan numbskulls embarassing their nations at the UN or the genuinely important Darfur and so on. Nowhere in the headlines, after the first announcement, has Hammond been mentioned.

But if you scrolled down to the section on “most read” or “most emailed”, it is stories about Hammond that have been number one for the past three days! It really highlights the huge difference between what we “should” be interested in and what we actually are interested in.

Those of you familiar with Digg know that it is a news site where the top stories are dictated by how many votes they get from the users. They are sometimes accused by “our betters” as pandering to the mob mentality and you often do get nonsense stories as the top ones of the day but what I have always found interesting about Digg is that it generally is a strong reflection of the important stories of the day as agreed on mainstream tech news sites too. So the mob mentality works a lot of the time. I guess it is a variation of the theme of that book “The Wisdom of Crowds”(which I really should read).

Whilst I’m not saying the BBC should dump their editors (well actually they should fire all the ones who insist on the use of inverted commas around any phrase that might be considered controversial: “terrorist”, “mass murderer”, “totalitarian dictator”, “king”), they might consider making one of the headline boxes a display for the most popular story over a 4/8/12/24 hour period. News for the people by the people.

I guess that is why I am such a fan of blogs and RSS feeds - I can subscribe to sites that feed me information that I am interested in and by taking a reasonable cross-section, I end up with a fairly rich view of certain topics and stories.

My issue with general news sites (not just the BBC) is that I don’t have the tools yet to filter the torrent of stories they push out and I can neither keep up with nor have interest in 90% of that information. A news feed which monitors my reading and filters based on what I have read historically would be a very powerful tool indeed.

Technorati Tags: Richard+Hammond, BBC, News, Digg, Mob+Mentality, Wisdom+Crowds

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland http://conoroneill.com