Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Picking Out The Important Bits

Recently, I encountered an excitingly useful tool called AideRSS. In a nutshell, the application provides new metrics on the items included in an RSS feed (such as comments added to a blog entry or links in Twitter messages) and allows the individual to filter according to benchmarks. The user can say I only want to read those items that generate the most discussion or I want to see those that exceed a particular level for one the metrics AideRss uses. The intent is to reduce the volume of content flowing to the individual, but still bring important items that are creating buzz to his or her attention.

Type the URL of a blog or website RSS feed into the AideRSS box at their home page. The system runs a rapid analysis of the most recent postings and spits back a table that displays Postrank (their metric), the relevant date of the entry, the headline associated with the entry and then three "conversational" metrics (number of comments left, bookmarkings, Google conversations, Twitter messages, and digg votes). The Postrank metric (which is an algorithm generate using the volume/frequency of those various indicators) allows you to rapidly see the most popular entry; clickable column headings on the interface trigger the appropriate sorting. One entry may generate a number of twitter entries but no comments while another may be bookmarked at a high rate and have five comments. Looking at this feedback allows the user to quickly identify the important items in an RSS feed for purposes of follow-up. Another graphic indicates the consistency of quality over time by noting the most popular item, least popular item, and the popularity level of the most recent posting on the site.

Click through here to see how Newsgator (as one prominent reader/aggregator of feeds) can support AideRSS:

The need to filter information is of increasing importance to Web knowledge workers. For those of us who monitor in excess of 200 feeds for purposes of industry news and analysis, headlines are frequently faulty indicators of a particular entry's content and importance. The development of something like AideRSS could allow me to gauge in a single screen what within a feed might be important to me as a reader or to my audience of readers. Publishers of all forms of content should take note!

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