del.icio.us is perhaps the beating heart of my web these days, not because I find bookmarks so useful, but because its useful to have a generic service for streaming links. But generic only gets you so far, as an engine for discovery del.icio.us can be painful, flipping through pages and pages of chronologically sorted results. Its comparable to the difference between Google’s search, with its largely generic listing of pages, and Google News which uses its domain knowledge to chunk, categorizes, and summarize the days news.
This is what CommonTimes is about. A project Jeff, Brian, and others launched a few months ago; it iterates on the successful model of del.icio.us to provide news centric “open editing” for the web. A vertical social bookmarking site, with a light touch editorial process to keep the site on topic.
The Web Needs Editors!
CT provides most of what you’d expect, tags, groups, bookmarklets, heat maps, RESTful APIs and some nice touches like an “Add from Bloglines” Greasemonkey script, and an adapted version of the del AJAX browser.
Perhaps more importantly CT points forward to a strategy (among many) for dealing with ever expanding problem of information overload, “smarter clients.” (Do I sound like a Microsoftie?) One approach is the AI-inspired, strong editor approach of a tech.memeorandum .
But personally my gets are on the “many editors makes categorization easy” technique that has got to be the years surprise success story, combined with tools which take advantage of available metadata, either through inference of explicit scoping.
Now that the idea is out there I’m surprised that there aren’t dozens of these vertical bookmarking sites.
Scaling Down, Scaling Up
Of course social sites, do rely on having a community, and there in perhaps lies the key challenge to building a site like CommonTimes. Thankfully there are solutions. Like breaking out of our silos, becoming a consumer as well as a producer of webservices. I want to tell CT about how to fish in my link stream (e.g. subscribe to http://del.icio.us/rss/kellan/news), and then remix with its own services.
Finally a link to get you started: Ten Ways to use CommonTimes