SXSW: Steven Johnson Unveils Newsfeed

Yesterday afternoon at SXSW08, Steven Johnson,‘s CEO, was interviewing the brilliant Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. I’ll come back to Jenkins’ insights in a later blog post.

Johnson, while talking about hyperlocal, collective intelligence and communities, unveiled a screenshot of a soon-to-be released feature of called “On My Radar”. According to the sneak peek page, “On My Radar lets you zoom down and see all the current buzz on the block you’re standing on, while simultaneously keeping tabs on places around the country that interest you.” It uses Yahoo’s FireEagle location technology. · Radar

(see the bigger image here)

What it means: On My Radar is very similar to the Facebook newsfeed, one of most interesting features of the popular social network site. I like the fact that they’ve segmented the geographical elements from the very hyperlocal (within 500 feet of you) to the city-level (Brooklyn). I see two challenges to this idea: depth of content and activity. Without these two, a local newsfeed is less relevant. But if they can mine enough information (and frequent updates) from local bloggers and users, this might be a very interesting way to discover hyperlocal news.