How Can We Dampen the Web's Echo Chamber?

I read a lot of blogs, mostly tech. I have 70 RSS feeds in Google Reader, and I try to at least scan all the articles regularly (roughly 200-300 per day). I enjoy staying on top of the tech world, which is why I put myself through this torture, but I'm getting increasingly frustrated by what many have referred to as the "echo chamber" effect of the web.

The tech blogs especially are filled every day with all the same stories, with roughly the same analysis in each. For example, yesterday Apple bought the chip manufacturer Intrinsity. First there was the original report from the New York Times:

Apple Buys Intrinsity, a Maker of Fast Chips - Apple wants the fastest chip for its mobile devices and has bought another chip maker to gain an edge over its competitors. Apple has acquired a small Austin, Tex., company called Intrinsity, known for making zippy versions of a computer chip often found in mobile devices.

The Times, or another similar "big media" outlet, is often the initial source in the echo chamber, since they actually have the money to spend on finding real stories. Then the reverb starts to kick in:

  • Apple Acquries Chip Maker Intrinsity (Mashable) - "Apple has confirmed that it has acquired Intrinsity, a Texas-based semiconductor maker that was likely the brains behind the chip that powers the iPad."
  • Apple Continues To Morph Into The Chocolate Factory. Expect Fewer Gobstopper Leaks (TechCrunch) - "A report today in the New York Times confirms earlier rumors that Apple has purchased Austin, Texas-based chip company Intrinsity. And yes, it appears that company is the one largely behind the new A4 chip found inside the iPad."
  • Apple gobbles up chip maker Intrinsity for $121 million (TUAW) - "Apple's buying spree for chip technology companies continues, with The New York Times reporting that the company has acquired Intrinsity. The Texas-based fabless semiconductor company was widely thought to be the engineering brains behind the iPad's A4 system-on-a-chip. Intrinsity's 1 GHz hummingbird processor was developed in partnership with Samsung last year, and the A4 is believed to be based on that technology."

What good are all these articles? I saw it in the Times this morning; do I really need to see it again and again and again in my feed reader?

All this has gotten me thinking about how to reduce this echo chamber effect. One way is of course to only read the Times, or something similar. But I'll definitely miss some big stories that way.

Or I could just read Techmeme, but while Techmeme is good at aggregating related reports from across the web and highlighting their picks of the top versions of those stories, I find the UI of the site to be ugly and cluttered. Google News is another option, but again I think the interface could be better.

However, what neither of these sites does, and what I'd really like, is a way to aggregate related stories from feeds of my own choosing. I would like a service that parses all of my feeds in Google Reader, semantically relates them, and lets me vote the different versions up and down so that it can prioritize different feeds for different topics.

For instance, I might think that Mashable has the best coverage of Facebook-related stories, but ReadWriteWeb does location-based services better. So this parser would be able to learn my preferences over time and present me with an automatically curated aggregation of the feeds I follow.

Does this exist? If not, I should make it.

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