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Innovations in Journalism – tracking conversations and researching stories with YackTrack

May 15th, 2008Posted by in Journalism

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. This week’s starter for ten is the aptly named YackTrack, designed to find info related to a single issue across various sites.

1) who are you and what’s it all about?
YackTrack is a service written by Rob Diana that allows a user to enter the URL of an article or blog post they want to find conversations about.

The conversations can be occurring on blogs (WordPress only so far), Digg, Mixx, Technorati (in the form of “blog reactions”), Disqus, StumbleUpon (in the form of “reviews”) and FriendFeed.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Based on the feedback I am receiving it seems to be useful to almost anyone. For a journalist, you can pick up a story from another site and run it through YackTrack, then get the all comments [made about the story] from other sites.

Most important in that list are the links you can get from services like Technorati. Those links are really just other articles or
blog posts talking about the same topic. If the topic if popular enough, you can grab several URLs from a service like TechMeme and run all of them through YackTrack and you could get a really good list of researchable articles.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
Yes there is more to come. Some things I cannot really talk about yet (as there has to be some suspense) and others are fairly straightforward.

Registration and saving of URLs to track are a logical step forward. RSS and email notifications are also a popular request. More service support is necessary as well. I have also had requests for blog plugins, specifically WordPress.

4) Why are you doing this?
A few weeks ago, there were a number of blog posts on where comments were being posted and whether the fragmented conversation was a good thing.

I think the fragmentation leads to more thought provoking conversations, but many bloggers do not know that their post was submitted to Mixx, Digg or StumbleUpon. Given that different sites have different cultures I thought it would be really interesting to have all of the conversations visible in one spot. I am getting the feeling that other people feel the same way.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Right now it does not cost anything to use. The service is simple to use and I would like to keep it available in that way.

6) How will you make it pay?
I would like the service to pay for its own hosting, but I do not really want to charge the users. I do have Google AdSense on the site now, but that is more to see if there is any minimal revenue available.

I am going to be looking at direct advertising as a revenue stream as well, as that could cover the hosting fees as well.

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