Thursday, May 11, 2006

Good news, Great news.

I used to blog about bad sites, but rolling in the mud is a bad way to keep clean (thanks, Aldous). So I'll talk about something positive for a change.

I'll talk about the news that I read these days, as an indicator of the way things are going on the Internet. Clearly blogs are big, but what is bigger are blog aggregators and sites which filter the good news.

The top on my list are Digg, Reddit, and Slashdot, and occassionally I read The Great News Network. And more often than not, I read Bloglines, the feed aggregator for my choice of news and blogs.

Notice the complete absence of print media, because they're just not relevant news anymore. The New York Times website is still a little better than the rest, publishing a CSS feed, so that you can read them in a blog aggregator, and pick and choose just the technology and Health. And toss that worthless Sports section out forever. (It is worthless for me, but many people read just that one section.)

It is instructive to compare the layouts and fonts, and general arrangement of the above sites with a typical Indian newspaper: Times of India. Even after blocking all the ads out, with Firefox, and a specially crafted hosts file, the page is still unreadable, and the news stories are very shallow, sometimes no more than two paragraphs of completely obvious stuff. Even a robot is better than these fellows. A very well made robot, no doubt, but it illustrates the disastrous effects of incompetence. Also, the top story today on the Times of India is how Sonia Gandhi wins the Rai Bareily Lok Sabha seat. How gullible do you have to be to think that this is newsworthy? At best, it is something that should be in a three line statement. Now Sonia Gandhi winning a marathon, or a bicycling championship deserves front page. (Sonia Gandhi is the top Congress polician in India.) The top page photograph is about Brooke Shields being happy after giving birth to her second daughter. Really, why do we care? Sorry Brooke baby, but nobody in India cares about you. We like you, (hell, we like everyone), but you're just not someone we care about.

A few years ago, we had to read the newspapers, because, like my father puts it, There Is No Alternative (TINA). Well, this is 2006, my warm friends. There Is A F#*@ing Great Alternative (TIFGA), and that is called Technology. See, you can choose blogs that list articles of interest, speak from the heart, and aren't swayed by press releases that are completely biased in favor of the PR company.

These are great times to live in. Every morning you get great news, all in clear fonts, nice CSS, and with comments that sometimes are quite lovely. Even Slashdot has moved to CSS now, I admit with a tear in one eye. Of course, Google News might serve your interest well, if you spend five minutes customizing it to your interest.

And when you need some entertainment, you can read a newspaper, and laugh at the page-high ads selling miracle creams. And more entertainment when you read these paper's websites, complete with whooshy-poppy ads.

Come on, Indian kids: make a Reddit clone for India, and get rich. How tough can it be? And when Reddit/Digg goes global, they'll buy your company for one boatload of money.