Are you fascinated not just by the media, but by all the ways in which blogs, Twitter and other forms of “social media” influence the news as it develops over time? Then Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera wants to hear from you. According to this posting on Craigslist (which I found via a Twitter link from Salon founder Scott Rosenberg), he’s looking to hire someone to fill a position that has never really existed before, and one which in many ways could never have existed before the Web came along:
“We’re not sure what to call this position. News Technician? News Analyst? Configuring Editor? The role involves interacting with an automated news-picking computer algorithm, configuring it and prodding it to ensure balanced and comprehensive coverage of important news topic areas. It’s the kind of job that possibly has never existed until 2008 but will become increasingly important in the years ahead.”
Anyone who has followed Techmeme for even a week or two will notice that the links and sub-links on the site are continually shifting over time, rising and falling not just as the importance of the story changes but as the links between the various sub-posts change. How does it work? Only Gabe knows for sure, which drives some people around the bend. I know that I’ve been fascinated with the way Techmeme functions ever since I first laid eyes on it a couple of years ago, and so have many others.
I know from hints Gabe has dropped here and there that it isn’t an automated process. Although algorithms are involved, I’m pretty sure that Gabe spends a lot of time tweaking things here and there, and it sounds like this new job will involve a lot of that. Among the required skills are:
- You should be a news junky or former news junky.
- You need a deep understanding of how news works online today. Thus, familiarity with blogging and the ascendant news sites. You must have a good sense of what’s newsworthy, what interests news readers. You should understanding how services like Twitter and Facebook fit into the picture.
- An understanding of modern web technologies and concepts: RSS feeds, feed readers, urls, permalinks, browsers, IM, social networks, etc.
Techmeme gets criticized for being too insular, for perpetuating the A-list echo chamber and for a lot of other things, both real and imagined. Is the site perfect? Hardly. But as far as I’m concerned, Techmeme and its siblings — including the political site Memeorandum.com and the gossip news-filtering site WeSmirch.com — are the pioneers in what you could call the “real-time front page” business, where you can watch news and opinion, and the relationships between them, shift and change literally by the minute. That may not be the future of online news, but it’s a pretty important part of it.