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.
Attention data is the information users give to web sites based on their interests and interactions and is a key personalization component. It is a valuable resource that reflects user interests, activities and values, and it serves as a proxy for their attention. APML or Attention Profiling Markup Language was created by Touchstone Live an attention-based company and was highlighted previously on Somewhat Frank. According to the APML website:
"APML will allow users to export and use their own personal Attention Profile in much the same way that OPML allows them to export their reading lists from Feed Readers. The idea is to boil down all forms of Attention Data including Browser History, OPML, Attention.XML, Email etc to a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests."
The APML Workgroup was recently formed which includes:
The APML Workgroup is tasked with converting the current specification into an agreed standard and the group has already created a revised spec. The adoption of APML as a standard would empower users to take control of managing there attention data. APML could help create a more unified personalized experience as users jump from site to site. More information can be found on the APML website: www.apml.org. If you are interested in helping sculpt the attention economy standard be sure to contact the group.
Yahoo Pipes launched in beta yesterday (February 8, 2007) as a dashboard for remixing existing RSS feeds. Pipes provides a very geek-centric yet compelling application, as it empowers any user to create a custom feed. Though this product might seem simple to people within the web 2.0 industry or the blogosphere, I still feel it has a long way to go to make it easy and understandable to a mainstream user, like my mother, bless her heart. Furthermore, Pipes had a troublesome launch day as it experienced major performance issues which were highlighted by RSS-czar David Winer. Personally, I encountered the messaging shown in the screen-shot below several times.
Judging by the flood of blogosphere activity surrounding the beta launch of Pipes, I speculate that several bloggers (minus myself) were given a preview of Pipes prior to launch. O'Reilly Radar had this to say of Pipes:
"It democratizes web programming, making it easier for people to have more control over the internet information services they consume, and providing a general-purpose platform for interacting with sites that is more powerful than the browser or feed-reader alone, but without requiring full programming skills."
While Nik Cubrilovic reported for TechCrunch by saying:
"Pipes can take any feed as input, and combined with the already available list of functions proves to be very powerful - my mind is still buzzing thinking about all that can be done with Pipes."
Bottom-line: Yahoo Pipes is an interesting new feed mashup application that allows users to create custom feeds. In launching as a beta it is currently a geek toolkit since it probably will not be easy to use or compelling to a mainstream audience.
Megite, an online news aggregator created by Matthew Chen, which I have highlight previously has improved its personalized news aggregator, My Megite by allowing users the ability to manage their own feed reading lists via an OPML file. Megite previously allowed users to create their own personalized news aggregator by sending in an OPML feed reading file in to Megite via email which was a very manual process. Though a great idea the previous process did not scale well as it created management bottleneck as users were not allowed to make their own OPML file updates. The new My Megite has eliminated this bottleneck. You can see mine here: Frank Gruber's Megite Personalized News Aggregator.