Managing information overload is not an easy task these days with all the blogs, feeds and other content options filling up my feed reader. How can a user better navigate to the items that might interest them the most? This is a tough problem to solve as every users is different. AideRSS is trying to solve this problem by helping to filter out the noise and deliver only the content the most popular content by sampling the wisdom of the crowds.
Photo of the Week: This illustration titled cubs by greasy chicken face is my attempt to will my favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, into the playoffs. I know it's not very web/tech related but its the Cubbies, it is mid-September and they are still leading the National League Central pack.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 09.16.2007
Photo of the Week: I found this unique view of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC this weekend.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 09.02.2007
Rootly, a news aggregator site, has relaunched with new site design and additional features. With the help of Marshall Kirkpatrick who has been guiding Rootly looks much improved. It now looks like a news start-page.
The new and improved Rootly offers highly customizable RSS feed powered vertical news search based on about one thousand preselected sources plus sources added by users. As a number of users add the same source it gains trusted status and eventually enters the general index. Rootly offers some decent search result feeds as well as internal bookmarking. Additionally, Rootly has added the ability to accept OpenID. The site reminds me of the old version of Topix (minus images) before its recent relaunch.
According to Marshall, Rootly looks to continue to roll out new features which include OPML import - which has a whole lot of implications - and a customizable widget for personal startpages. One thing I would like to see though as they continue to improve is the addition of thumbnail images to each result.
Interestingly, Rootly sent me review request via ReviewMe several months ago and I had to decline. Back then, I just did not find it compelling enough to write about. The UI was terrible and it has some usability issues. I am happy to see Rootly has come a long way and offers a much improved its product. It is just proof that if you create a compelling product experience and people will talk about it.
SplashCast, a Portland-based media player startup, has launched MyPodcastNetwork to enable users to play podcasts directly from the feature rich Flash-based media player. Previously, the SplashCast player was limited to only pulling in RSS feeds from YouTube and Flickr but with the MyPodcastNetwork feature you can pull in any podcast feed you like. Users can now play any podcast on your web site, blog or personalized startpage. When a podcast updates, the SplashCast player will automatically pull in the latest. This will make it easier to collect and play your favorite video and audio podcasts which could disrupt some podcast subscribers dependence on iTunes.
SplashCast is also assembling a Podcast directory to help users find the podcasts they are looking for. Users can submit any RSS feed with enclosures to the SplashCast catalog and it will be available for viewing in a SplashCast player.
What's next for SplashCast? It sounds like the focus will be
on improving its search functionality and adding some basic editing tools
to help users remix media content.
Find out more about MyPodcastNetwork from SplashCast Director of Content, Marshall Kirkpatrick in the video below.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 04.08.07
EMI announced DRM-free music earlier in the week and now Microsoft is hinting at doing the same. Is this the death of DRM?
500 million+!!! AOL'Sphere Goes Live
AOL and Sphere quietly turned on Sphere It in their AOL News, Sports and Entertainment articles. The Sphere It widget is great - I have one too on all my posts as it offers users the ability to find related content. Love it. If you would like one for your site be sure to check out the Sphere tools.
Google Personalizes Maps
Google Maps launched a new feature to its maps product this week (April 5, 2007) called My Maps with offers users the ability to personalize a Google Map. My Maps enables anyone to draw, plot or color a Google Map without having to know an ounce of coding knowledge thus bringing simplified personal mapping to the masses.
Yahoo Testing Alpha (Beta) Multi Search
Search Engine Land covers Yahoo's launch of Alpha a new search experience. Alpha is really more of a multi-search tool that submits your query to multiple sources. It really reminds me of AOL FullView Search.
10 Things You Can Do With Mixed Media RSS
Marshall Kirkpatrick, of SplashCast Media, presents a list of ways to leverage mixed media feeds produced by SplashCast. He provides big-picture use-cases and explains how you can use other products I have previously reviewed like Tumblr, FeedBurner, ZapTxt and Rasasa to create some interesting feed mashups.
The Future of RSS
Read/Write Web looks at RSS today and asks if RSS is evolving into a tool for delivering complex, semantically rich information. A great article for anyone looking for information on RSS.
Technorati and the blog search wars
Mathew Ingram dissects Technorati's recent state of the blogosphere. It is still interesting to see how fast Technorati.com has been growing: over 9 million unique visitors in March, up 141 per cent in a single quarter, and double-digit growth every month in page views as well. Not bad.
Financing Web Work with Prosper.com
Prosper.com enables peer-to-peer loans for startups and anyone looking to do their own thing. If you are looking for funding you may want to check it out.
Zillow Relaunch - Adds Its Own Q&A Service
Every home in the Zillow database has its own dedicated page. Any user can now also add photos and information about any home and its neighborhood to the site. Users can also indicate if a home is for sale, and the asking price, as well as additional info.
Weblin’s Avatars Surf the Web with You
Kristen Nicole reviews the recent launch of Weblin, a program that lets you create a web avatar that travels with you on your web journey. According to the article when you come across a site where there are other Weblins, you’ll be able to see them and strike up a conversation. Chatting avatars on the web - interesting!
iminlikewithyou, an interesting new look at online flirting
iminlikewithyou is all about flirting, well, the art of flirting. Users sign up for the service and answer a few basic questions about themselves. Photos can be added as well as other personal information to be rewarded with valuable flirting points.
Widgets Arrive for the iPod
The iPod is still largely a closed development platform, but that's not stopping some folks from creating widgets that run on it. Steve Rubel points to two products from Kooloroo that bring handy information to the iPod.
Somewhat Frank Weekly Tidbits: 03.11.07
My Yahoo! Gets Web 2.0 Makeover
Just as Yahoo CEO, Terry Semel hinted at last week, the new My Yahoo Beta was launched this week to offer an drag and drop experience that mirrors the current Yahoo home page. There were a number of media reactions to the product. Steve Rubel feels that the new My Yahoo is abandoning the geeks. Erick Schonfeld thinks Yahoo is chasing web 2.0 dreams. While Greg Linden explained how Yahoo will be adding more personalization to My Yahoo.
Freebase Will Prove Addictive
Freebase, launched this week to create an online database, is to centralize as much data as possible to allow participants to freely add and access data - developers can extract information from Freebase via a set of APIs and add it to their web applications. This application, if true to its mission, could be huge.
A Roundup of Tools & Applications For Developers
Brian Benzinger pulls together a hardy list of web applications for project planning, system administration, usability testing, collaborative development, and web services to help "Developers, Developers, Developers…".
Criteo’s AutoRoll: What Readers are Reading
Eric Olson showcases a new blog widget by Criteo called the AutoRoll that displays links to blogs that your readers should like similar to the way MyBlogLog offers up popular links in each blog community. Based on each unique reader's affinity for each specific blog, the Criteo Recommendation Engine will compute on a real-time basis the relative affinity of all blogs.
Google Phone: Team of 100 working on Blackberry like….?
Is Google planning to follow Apple's lead into the phone industry?
Clearspring Raises $5.5M for Widget Service
ClearSpring, the Arlington, Virginia-based widget marketplace, which helps content owners widgetize and widget makers hook up with web and desktop distribution platforms, has raised $5.5 million in its second round of funding, for a total of $7.5 million raised.
Start-up to launch FREE wireless network in Silicon Valley
Meraki Networks, a Mountain View, California-based start-up is planning to build a free wireless Internet network in central San Francisco, and all residents have to do is put a small wireless router supplied by the company in their window or rooftop, to bring free wireless Internet access.
Five Principles to Design By
Web designer Joshua Porter gives five principles he designs social media web sites by.
Newsgator Online Beta: Better Than Before - Still Not Good Enough
Marshall Kirkpatrick gives his perspective on the recently released Newsgator online feed reader beta product.
Feedable Puts a Memetracker in Your RSS Reader
Steve Rubel reviews the new Ajax feed reader called Feedable and expresses his liking of its "memetracker" feature. The "memetracker" is built right in and shows you what the hottest items of the day are.
SplashCast, a Portland-based startup, launched today (January 30, 2007) to offer an easy way to create and share videos, photos and audio online with its embeddable player. SplashCast is a Flash-based site and enables users to create a Flash player to play custom videos comprised of photos, uploaded videos, YouTube videos or even RSS feeds from YouTube or Flickr. Since SplashCast is Flash-based it will allow MySpace users and the rest of the web to place video or slide-shows on their sites with ease. Check out this instructional video by Marshall Kirkpatrick, formerly a key contributor to TechCrunch, for more details on how to get started with SplashCast.
Simple to setup and use, a SplashCast feature that I found interesting was the ability to create a video by passing an RSS feed from Flickr or YouTube. I decided to create a video which randomly pulled videos from my YouTube video feeds. Since it just pulled in a feed I was able to create the SplashCast video very quickly. Code was then offered to be snagged and placed on the page below as shown.
SplashCast is backed by QMind, its parent company, and raised $1.3 million for the use of related software in enterprise e-learning and is now working on another round of funding. To stay up to speed on the latest from SplashCast check out the SplashCast blog.
Bottom-line: SplashCast makes it very easy to create Flash-based video to be embedded into any page.
I recently highlighted current consumer feed reading habits but it's been awhile now since I authored the feed readers comparison for TechCrunch. The landscape has changed as products have released new features while other products have ducked out of the competition. SplashCast recently did a market analysis to produce an extensive list of feed reader options. The article, written by former TechCrunch writer Marshall Kirkpatrick, starts by focusing on feed readers handling of rich media RSS, provides insight into his top 10 favorite feed readers and concludes by
California feed reader dreaming with the idea of his "dream feed reader" as follows:
"If I could piece together the various options available to me now, what I’d like is this. I’d like an online reader with the speed and media handling of Google Reader and the river of news functionality of Newsgator Online. I’d like it synced with a desktop reader that combines the stability, 3rd party tagging and river of news of NetNewsWire with the aesthetics of FeedDemon and the media handling of RSSOwl. I don’t believe that anyone has yet nailed the cross platform mobile reader that syncs with web and desktop readers. That’s subject of another post, though."
I would have to agree that all these features combined would be great but if I had to prioritize them I would say application speed/performance, organizational design elements (i.e. tagging, labels or folders) and discover tools (i.e. a recommendations engine for feeds or feed items to help me to get to the items that might interest me the most) would top my list.