Real-Time News, Free From Manipulation
One of the biggest complaints about Digg and similar sites is that the stories, or "news" can be manipulated by voting blocs. And one of the complaints about a site like Yahoo Buzz is that it's controlled and filtered by editors. Then there's Newspond, which publishes news not based on editor's opinions or by voting, but by real-time populartiy across the Internet.
This is accomplished by monitoring and indexing "...everything from major news portals, to the tiniest blog, or forum. As a news story surfaces across one or more of these sites, Newspond notes every detail about it - from how fast a story spreads throughout the internet, to the amount of discussion surrounding the story, to even things like the rate at which people click on or bookmark the article and the size of each of the sites reporting it."
All of these factors result in a Buoyancy Rating - showing the trajectory of the story. This rating ebbs and flows depending on the data collected by Newspond.
I think what I find most interesting about this site is that - aside from user comments - it uses Web 2.0 resources but has a markedly un-Web2.0 feel. With terms like "social fatigue" being thrown about, and the idea that users are more aware than ever of voting manipulation, it's a refreshing take on viral news. Unlike Yahoo Buzz which piggybacks on the Web 2.0 community but is far from true user-generated media, Newspod acts like a viral monitor: here is what's being spread around ... just the facts, ma'am.
Should Newspond catch on with consumers, it could become an important portal for publishers. When users see a story that is not hand-picked or manipulated by the so-called "wisdom of the crowd," it holds plenty of weight. CNN is the establishment, Digg is the powerful voice of the few and Newspond appears to be the democracy of viral news and media. One downside is that the site covers just Tech, Games and Science. But then again, that may be because these are the areas where they feel they can get the most accurate representations, staying true to the un-biased mission of the site. Perhaps we'll see new categories as the site grows.