Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What is Findory?

When I talk to people who haven't seen Findory before, I describe Findory as a personalized newspaper, a newspaper that learns what you like. "It is as if the newspaper on your front porch was different than your neighbors," I say, "each individualized copy emphasizing the news that is important to you."

But this is merely a description of Findory's current website. Where is Findory going? What are we building? What is Findory?

Findory is personalizing information. You are flooded with information in your daily life. There are hundreds of messages, thousands of news sources, millions of products, billions of web pages, all screaming for your attention. Personalized information provides focus. It surfaces the information you need.

You might ask, "Why can't I search for what I need?" Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. Search works well when you already know exactly what you want. It works poorly when you don't know or can't say exactly what you want. For example, you can't search for "news that is important to me" or "weblogs that I will find interesting." Personalization learns from your behavior and helps you discover what you want.

At its core, Findory matches content to interested audiences. All information is content. News, weblogs, and advertising are a first step. Every information stream can and will be personalized.

What is Findory? Personalized information. That is Findory.


Alex Bosworth said...

I find it hard to get into Findory b/c of the chicken and the egg problem, how do you know what I like unless I visit Findory, why do I want to visit Findory unless you know what I like.

Findory should allow me to import my OPML blog registry and delicious bookmarks to jump-start the process of figuring out what I like.

Also I have a bit of a problem with Findory where with the normal sources of news that I read, I know where the beginning and end is. With Findory I can just explore forever into news, but I want a limit so I know how much I have to see and how much I've seen already.

I don't really read news by browsing, that's how I discover new sources of news that I then subscribe to.

Alex Bosworth

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Alex. Great to hear from you!

Interesting idea about importing your feeds to Findory. Findory is designed to learn quickly from just a few clicks, but I agree it would be good for people with large, established lists of feeds to be able to upload them.

However, it's true that Findory probably isn't the best tool if you want to read everything written on a large number of news sites and blogs. For serious news junkies -- people who want to see everything and filter it themselves -- sorting news by relevance doesn't have as much value. After all, if you read everything anyway, the ordering doesn't much matter.

For people who wouldn't bother configuring an RSS reader, for people who spend only a few minutes a day reading news, Findory is just the ticket. At a glance, you find interesting articles pulled from around the world. Skim the page, click a few, and you're good to go. No work, no effort.

Even for power users, Findory can help to discover new and interesting sources of news. There are 10M+ weblogs out there, most of them utter crap. Discovering the gems in the rough is a challenge. Findory can help. Just read a few articles and you'll be on your way.

Chris Brooks said...

I use Findory's personalized RSS feed on a daily basis in exactly the way you describe: to find interesting stuff that I didn't know about.

However, there's a "bug" -- Findory does such a good job at figuring out what interests me that it often points to articles that I have already read. I don't click on those articles -- in effect, withholding information about many articles that interest me -- because those articles interested me so much that I have already read them.

I'm trying to think of a clever fix for this, but I haven't come up with anything. If you could add a checkbox labelled "already read" with an Ajax backend, I might click on that checkbox as I scroll on by. (But I assume that you can't reliably add functional JavaScript to an RSS feed.) An "already read" link which redirects me back to my referer won't work when called from within a frame (ala blogines) and would be a bit slow.

Perhaps there's an opt-in client-side solution (ala javascript bookmarklets or greasemonkey)? Or perhaps it's not that big of a deal, and you've just wasted 60 seconds of your life with nothing to show for it....

Greg Linden said...

That's excellent, Chris! While I understand that the occasional recommendation of an article you read elsewhere isn't all that useful, this does mean that the recommendations are very good, almost eerily accurate. Good to hear that Findory is working well for you.

Good idea on the "already read" button. We've been thinking about adding rating buttons to the articles. We're a bit concerned about cluttering the interface, but we hope to find a solution that keeps the site simple, clean, and easy to use.