Ensembli demos simple, useful RSS aggregator

It's not a great product for obsessive RSS readers, but it's pretty good for everyone else.

The RSS reader Ensembli is not a product for me, says CEO Michael Wheatley. It's certainly not a product for RSS junkies like Robert Scoble. People who use RSS feeds professionally, to stay on top of news and spot emerging issues they may not have been aware of, need feed readers that show them everything that happens in the news sources they know about. (Personally, I use Netvibes as a dashboard.) What Ensembli does is track the topics you tell it you're interested in. It then watches what you click on and fetches stories based both on those implied interests and what you've said you want to see.

I've heard this concept before, but Ensembli's interface makes the difference. It's really simple, and I believe it could be a useful site for a person who's just looking to see what's new in a field they care a bit about.

Ensembli tracks RSS content by topic, not feed. The concept works. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman / CNET

Wheatley told me the service refines its selections based on your actions. When you first start using the system the content you see is largely based on what other users have clicked on, but over time, the impact of other users' actions on what you see diminishes, and Ensembli's own pattern matching correlates what you click on to all the feeds it is monitoring to show you a better, more personal selection of stories.

I like the user interface and I like the concept. I'm a little less thrilled with the content itself so far. Initial results for some keywords I entered didn't include content sources I was expecting, and as TechCrunch notes, Ensembli is lacking a feed from Twitter.

But the target market, right now, probably doesn't care. I would be comfortable recommending this service to someone new to the RSS concept, or to anyone who just wants to monitor blogs and news sites for issues they have a passing, and not professional, interest in.

Wheatley is pitching to the Demo 09 audience tomorrow. Also at Demo 09: Evri.

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Software
About the author

Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.

 

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