Survey of Personalized News Aggregators

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Tools for Startups

Gone are the days when you could read a couple of journals and get a good idea of what is going on in an industry. Today, the number of great sources has exploded.

The challenge is to manage all of these sources, fortunately almost all of them now provide a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed. Tools called feed aggregators merge the information from a set of RSS feeds into a single page that is, in effect, a “personalized newspaper.” This newspaper is always up to date from the latest blog posts and articles,  reducing the time and effort needed to check for new information from websites, blogs, and news sites.

Once subscribed to a feed, an aggregator is able to check for new content at user-determined intervals and retrieve the update. One of the problems with news aggregators is that the volume of articles can be overwhelming. As a solution, many feed readers allow users to tag each feed with one or more keywords which can be used to sort and filter the available articles into easily navigable categories.

I want to share my experience with using these familiar innovative news aggregators tools which allows me to build a collection of “industry-specific personalized newspapers”.

Survey of tools: Google reader, Netvibes, InfoMinder, and Eqentia

There are a number of simple tools like Google reader, Netvibes, FeedDemon, or Bloglines.  These feed aggregators are good at monitoring known RSS feeds. These tools offer very little assistance in finding new sources of information.  Also, they quickly fall apart when sorting through news items like press releases where duplicate copies show up on many different sources.  Sorting through duplicates is a waste of time and it makes it more likely for you to miss unique pieces of news.

These simple readers can be configured to display headlines, summaries, or the entire article. And, they may be configured as to how many articles to display. They don’t act like actual newspapers in that they will display the news for a given blog regardless whether the reader has seen it before.  For example one of my Google reader pages, still shows news from 2006, because that was the last time that blog was updated.  I have seen the article a hundred of times but Google reader does not remove it. Between the duplicate article issue and the lack of real-time updates of latest information, I have moved away from using Google reader type functionality.

Aggregators which offer enhanced functionality

Tools like iMorph’s InfoMinder offer more functionality to assist with duplicate article issue and focuses on real-time updates. Imorph’s InfoMinder is a hosted subscription service that allows you to track changes of web pages, blogs, RSS feeds and wikis.

I use InfoMinder because it combines Google Reader functionality with Google Alerts functionality to follow hundreds of vertical industry sources. Each day it sends me an email digest of all changes for the sites I am tracking. I can click through to a version of any of those pages to see all the changes since my last visit if needed.

Another tool that I use is Eqentia.  Like Google reader, Eqentia allows me to consolidate RSS feeds.  And like InfoMinder, Eqentia sends me a single email digest. Eqentia does a good job eliminating duplicate articles. Additionally, it has a knowledge portal that extracts key elements like company, people, subject, issues and regions. Filter and drilling down allows you to quickly find the latest news on a particular person, company or subject you are in search of.

Imorph’s InfoMinder consolidates multiple website and blog search tracking into a single email digest and continues to notify me of the latest updates of each site.  Equentia forwards a single email digest, eliminates the same (duplicate) articles produced by multiple streams, and provides additional knowledge settings which I set up to get specific information needed.

By using these specialized news aggregators, I now have gathered a large collection of “industry-specific personalized newspapers” and can quickly manage thousands of informative sites. This collection of personalized newspapers allows me to search for specific knowledge tracking, competitive intelligence, media monitoring and enhancing SEO quickly. I use the tools to track industries and maintain thought leadership.

Resources:

  • Great Video by CommonCraft that explains RSS very well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0klgLsSxGsU

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Comments (1)

  • Dorai Thodla

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    Thank you for using InfoMinder and mentioning it. Really appreciate the time you have taken to analyze various tools and explain the differences.

    Reply

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