I hadn’t come across Topix before today’s news that the New York Times has paid to have its stories come at the top of the page on certain categories.
Topix is basically a news aggregator, along the lines of Google News, except Topix is clearly a commercialised exercide (does this put the lie to the theory that Google News is still in beta because to commercialise it would lead to lawsuits?).
The deal with the NYT looks interesting, but SiliconBeat asks some pertinent questions about it:
It seems to be another in a string of smart partnerships for Topix. But might it also be a slippery slope? For better or worse, sites such as Topix and Google News are known for having little or no human intervention in their story placement and search result rankings. Will users now need to worry about publishers buying their way to the top of Topix search results? What happens when other papers such as the Post want to compete with the Times for placement?
Topix also apparently has deals with Citysearch, Info.com and, most puzzling of all, Yahoo!. Why would an aggregator do a deal with an aggregator? Isn’t that a little recursive?
UPDATE: Rich Skrenta of Topix dropped me a line to say this:
Specifically what we did with Yahoo was to work with them during the
beta of the My Yahoo RSS reader, to get our feeds indexed in their
We obviously would like everyone to start coming to Topix.net’s
homepage first thing every morning, but to the extent that that isn’t
going to happen — say for hardcore My Yahoo users — it’s nice to
be able to work with newsreaders such as them to drive RSS
subscriptions to our content channels.
We also have done some integration with Bloglines and Newsgator
to offer quick subscription widgets for our local US newsfeeds by