Microsoft's Live Labs team has just released a new way to track political discourse on the Web. Called Political Streams, the tool tracks news stories on both blogs and traditional-news sites, and ranks it based on velocity and overall coverage.
What's really neat is that it also keeps track of mentioned names and places in each story, to show how much coverage that person or part of the world has received within the last 30 days.
Each item can be drilled down into a little further, which is where you can see a small one-paragraph summary and the two charts for the coverage of people and places. Each of these places and names also gets its own page that lists related news, which makes it a very topical experience. The information itself comes from Freebase, the Wikipedia-like open-database project.
Much like Google's recent Blog Search page efforts, Live Labs' Political Streams also keeps track of a very important number--how long a story has continued to get play. This number stems from the first time it began getting tracked through the service's crawling engine, which doesn't necessarily dictate where it sits on the list of top stories.
One interesting thing I noticed is that the top stories on the blog side were less than half the age of those on the traditional-news side. That, of course, is bound to change, depending on the day's news.
Political Streams is the first site of its kind from the Live Labs team. I expect that we'll see additional "streams" pages for tech, world, sports, and celebrity news after the presidential election.