New News Aggregator: Topix

from the looks-nice dept

As you might imagine, here at Techdirt, we're always experimenting with new ways to track down news. We use a variety of tools that are available out there, and some that we've scraped together ourselves. The folks who started the Open Directory Project (which was eventually bought by Netscape) have just launched a beta test of their new offering,, which is an online news aggregator. There are others like it, but on a first pass, this one looks pretty good. It clearly competes with things like Google News, though, the search functionality isn't as advanced. However, what it does do, quite well, is builds very directed drill down feeds, and categorizes stories within those feeds. Some of the feeds are focused on locations, and some go all the way down to news about a specific celebrity. For a beta offering, it's pretty impressive. For those who will ask, they don't currently offer things like RSS feeds, but plan to in the future. We don't normally do "product release" announcements like this, but it seemed like it would be interesting to folks who come here - and the service is impressive enough at beta that we figured people might be interested. Update: Figured this might happen. In posting this we've had a few others contact us as well about news aggregator services. Clearly, we won't be lacking in these types of services - which is a good thing. Another one that looks interesting is Gixo, which also tries to do some personalization based on what you click on. It seems fairly limited at this point, but has some potential. It also reminds me of Memigo, which has a lot of personalization included, but the interface can be a little overwhelming at first.

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  • identicon
    aNonMooseCowherd, 12 Jan 2004 @ 5:00pm


    I see that memigo has some pointers to articles on slashdot, which are themselves mainly pointers to other sources. With everybody and his brother trying to become the portal to the world so they can rake in the advertising dollars, I can see this trend continuing until the whole web consists of lots of loops with no actual content (no leaf nodes) -- just everyone pointing to everyone else's site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Costas, 12 Jan 2004 @ 5:11pm

      Re: loops

      Hi, memigo is my site. You can see that there are no ads on memigo (although I'll have to put up some at some point, but not yet anyhow) and no direct commercial interest. Memigo has simply been a hobby and an experimental platform for a few things that I've been playing with.

      Now, I agree with you that there are so many levels of meta you can put on top of actual content until there is little value left. That's not what I am trying to do. If you look closely, you will see that memigo doesn't link to Techdirt discussions for instance, although it gets referred links from here; that's only done because the forums here are usually empty and low-traffic. If TD had enough interesting meta-content itself like Slashdot or MeFi, I would add its forums to the site. I built memigo to function as I myself browse: I follow links from sites I trust (like TD) and when such a link gets picked up from a big group weblog, I (sometimes) want to read that discussion. That's the idea, not grabbing click-thrus.

      Anyways, I hope you give memigo and try and change your mind :-)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Greg Linden, 12 Jan 2004 @ 7:04pm

    Findory News

    In the shameless-self-promotion department, I'd like to mention the personalized news site with which I'm involved, Findory News. It's like Google News, but reading stories changes the front page to match your interests.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2004 @ 7:30am

      Make my little world smaller?

      Actually guys, bad news. Personalized recommendations re: shopping at Amazon are GREAT. They help me find things I wouldn't otherwise have time to research.

      Personalized news stories are the 4th sign of the apocolypse. Look, if I want specialized news - movie news, for example - I'll go to a movie site. Or a magazine that specializes in it.

      But personalized news stories? If I go there and drill down again and again about things I like, rather than get an overview of "the world" (at least as the media portrays it) I'd have missed the 9/11 attacks for 57 stories about Jude Law's next movie. Unless there's a reference, like, "Jude Law's next movie cancelled by 9/11 attacks!"

      Overstating the obvious to make the point. Excite and Yahoo have tried personalized homepages years ago. Personalization is overrated.

      The biggest problem - you guys are screwing with technology for technology's sake, rather than getting out in the world and seeing what real people are doing / are missing and filling that hole! That's what makes businesses successful. They fill a hole. That's the root of the whole dotcom crash - selling shoes online sounded great, until someone stopped to think that, "hey, I have to try the g@#$@ things on to see if they fit".

      All that said: I LOVE Google News. Why? # 1 - the layout, easy to scan and read. # 2 - gives me an overview of "the world" from a North American POV. Faster and easier than checking out several different sources. Most of all - it SUMMARIZES things, doesn't give me 500 stories about one thing I like.

      Neat technology, but keep thinking about it, and how it could help people in their lives.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike (profile), 13 Jan 2004 @ 10:26am

        Re: Make my little world smaller?

        Did you look at Topix? Seems to be similar to Google News in the way you describe.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Greg Linden, 13 Jan 2004 @ 3:52pm

        Re: Make my little world smaller?

        Are you interested in all the news on the Google News home page? Or are there some articles you aren't interested in?

        If there's at least a few articles you aren't interested in, then you should be able to see the value of personalized news. You'd still get your overview, but it would stop wasting your time showing you articles you'd never be interested in.

        Personalized news really isn't a big deal. It just makes reading the news a little easier and quicker.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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