I no longer look at the front page of the NY Times to tell me what’s important. I look at it to see what people like the editors of the NY Times think is important. I’m finding the news that matters through the Internet recommendation engine: Blogs, emails, mailing lists, my aggregator, websites that aggregate and comment on news, etc.
Brief thoughts (also appearing in comments at Dave’s): we’re back with finding out what people say about stuff. Which is, ultimately, all there is to find out. Knowledge – and, for that matter, news – has always been produced in cloud form, as an emergent property of conversations. When we counterpose knowledge to conversation, we’re really saying that certain conversations have ended – or been brought to an end – and left unchallenged conclusions behind them. What’s changed is that, until recently, the conversations which produce knowledge (and news) have taken place within small and closed groups, so that most of us have only seen the crystallised end-product of the conversation. What Wikipedia, blogging, RSS and del.icio.us give us is the rudiments of a distributed conversation platform, enabled by pervasive broadband. (Which is why the ownership of the authority to stop the conversation – and crystallise the cloud – is such a big issue.)