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A Human Replacing a Computer Program — How Refreshing!

Have you ever heard of Techmeme.com?  It may not be a common site in most people’s www lexicon, but for many of us it is a wonderful technology and business news hug.  The NY Times even called it “the ultimate news cyborg.”  Happily it as been announced that this previously machine-driven news site will add a human editor to it’s team. 

Techmeme debuted in 2005.  Since then, it has organized breaking news stories and blog posts using software that determines importance, primarily based on the number of links to a story. However, occasionally the system would err.  For example, it may bump old headlines up to the top of the site instead of replacing them with the freshest out there. 

The site’s founder, Gabe Rivera, said he began developing a human-guided editorial interface last year to help limit those problems.  This program has lead to a new job opportunity for a human to supervise the process.  The editor will watch closely on the stories flowing through the site’s front page, aiming to deliver an up-to-date snapshot of what is happening in the technology world. Not only will she be reviewing the contents for relevance, she’ll also be scouting out fresh sources and Web sites to draw from. 

What a nice change in today’s news of cutbacks and unemployment.  I hope more companies don’t lose sight of the importance of a personal touch in such an automated world.

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