AOL roped New York Times tech reporter Saul Hansell into heading up "Seed," the ominous project to churn out news stories in response to what people type into search engines. Can Hansell make this hellish scheme less dreadful?
It's a tough challenge; Demand Media does something similar, and has become in the process a poster child for slapdash, disposable content churned out en masse. AOL's hiring announcement doesn't say what Hansell will be doing at Seed. But it does remind you that the tech reporter launched Bits, the Times' tech blog.
Hansell also worked behind the scenes on other Times new media efforts, judging from this YouTube interview, including the long-forgotten Bloggrunner aggregator, which Times lawyers originally wanted to sue. After shaking up the all-too-ossified Times, Hansell must do the opposite as employee No. 1 at Seed: lending some sort of structure and voice to articles written based on Google Trends or whatever. It's not what we'd do after taking a buyout, but, who knows, it could be just a little bit fun, in a post apocalyptic sort of way.