Seems there are a lot of “First To Market” believers running news aggregators. That became apparent when not one, not two, but three different news aggregators launched “beta” versions of their products to the public this week. I’ve been playing with two of the aggregators – Google News Timeline and NewsSift. The third product, SkyGrid, launched a media blitz (Scobleizer, Washington Post, and TechCrunch) about how they were opening up their product, but in my opinion fell flat on their face when you later learned that it was a private invite only, and apparently I couldn’t get my invite in fast enough. If anyone at SkyGrid wants me to do a review of the aggregator, then send me one of those valuable private invites!!
Let’s look at Google News Timeline:
Visually, this immediately appeals to me. I like the columns set-up, with each column representing a different date. Video and images are build right into the results, and it is pretty easy to see what information you have at your fingertips. The video pops right up on the screen and plays without having to launch to another webpage. I’d like to see the images do the same. Currently, the images are pretty small, and if you click on them, you launch to another page.
Search options seem to be consistent with typical Google News searches. You can search for keywords, phrases, etc. Plus, there are some advance search options that you can select — such as specific news sources, dates, blogs, magazines or media type.
Google News Timeline is a great “start”, but I’d like to see more. The very first thing I’d like is the ability for me to send a search result to someone. Currently, I could not find a way to send a link to a search result (but, if I’m wrong, please let me know.)
NewSift is a product from the folks at FT.com. Right away you can see what they are trying to do with the search tool by breaking down five different categories along with the search term text box. Enter in a term like “Banks”, and you get some suggested categories to either use, or add to your search. I like that it is set up to be “suggestive” and that it doesn’t actually take over my search by putting the additional categories in automatically. I’m hoping as the product matures, there will be more topics available based on the terms you enter. For example, I put in the term “lawyer” and I get no suggestions in Business Topic or Place categories.
The search results are very clean and easy to interpret. The results do not contain video or images like you see in the Google News Timeline, but do give you some pie chart information that breaks down the results by six different categories. The charts then give you an opportunity to narrow the results by clicking on individual categories. This type of post-results filtering reminds me of the way Factiva results work. You can also expand, refine, or remove portions of the search without having to recreate your search from the beginning.
NewsSift also allows you to send a results link by copying and pasting the results URL. So, a researcher can do a search and send it on to the requester pretty easily. There isn’t an RSS option, but I’m hoping that they add that at a later date.
As for SkyGrid:
There’s a section set aside for a review here ______________. (Although, Martha Sperry did a review of the product over on The Advocate’s Studio.
Go out and test them! If you have any other aggregators that you use, please list some of them in the comment section below.