On December 17th — eleven days ago — I emailed my friend Ashish over at Setfive Consulting with a pretty simple idea: a topical meme tracker, using pre-selected RSS feeds to limit the scope of acceptable articles and bit.ly to weight and further filter the wheat from the chaff.   Specifically, as a die-hard New York Mets fan who has a second identity on Twitter, @metstweets, I wanted to be able to tweet out “hot” Mets stories.  I considered using TweetMeme, but I really didn’t want some generic article from an out-of-market newspaper, something non-English, spam, or even worse, something entirely unrelated to the “Mets” I’m talking about.

(Also, I wanted to test a model for a startup: a reverse-incubator.  But that’s a story for another day — probably later this week — so if you’re interested, subscribe to my RSS feed.)

Limiting the universe of potential sources seemed like the right starting point.  So I quickly wrote it up and sent it to Ashish to see if it was a reasonable build.  The end result is BitMe.Me, and you’ll note that the front page has nothing to do with the Mets.  The tool itself applies to any vertical, which is why I liked the idea so much, and can be adapted incredibly quickly.  When you see how it works, you’ll see why.

We started with my target vertical — the Mets.  I read enough Mets content to know that there are fewer than 100 key sources, and while I’m sure there are diamonds out there in other sites, I am willing to forgo them in my meme tracker.  Why?  Because as the volume of content expands out from beyond the core group, the signal to noise ratio decreases.  Also, because the number of sources is relatively small and, in any event, finite, this allowed us to build an index without having to worry about spidering, discovery, etc.

Ashish instinctively expanded it to bigger verticals — technology, sports, gossip, politics, and news — and that’s what you see on the site right now. Yes, there’s a Mets section as well, but that’s not the focus of the site.  (And we’re working on a problem which causes MetsBlog content to not register correctly.)

Pretty straight forward.  Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments, or by shooting me an email.