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Factery Labs launches a Web start page for facts

Factery Labs has a new tool that helps users keep an eye on trending news topics throughout the day.

If you've ever done a real-time search on Twitter or Google News, you might have noticed that it takes some work to get to the details of a developing story or topic at large. Beyond headlines and short summaries, there can be chunks of information that don't surface without a full read. Factery Labs, which in November launched an API for pulling out such facts from all over the Web, has a new product that's trying to change that.

The new tool, which the company is calling a "real-time fact engine" gives users several tabs that deliver a never-ending stream of news and information. As the news flows in, the page refreshes automatically with more of it. The idea (as it was explained to me) is to just keep it running and come back to it from time to time in order to get an idea of what's going on.

Sound familiar? In a way, it's a lot like iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, and all the other tools that can do that with widgets and RSS feeds. But this is different. It's based entirely on keywords and phrases, which become the beginnings of constantly running search queries.

Each tab that's full of these breaks down into a grid of widget-like enclosures that stream the latest tidbits of information about any given topic, as pulled from the company's "FactFinding" engine. This includes facts that may be relevant to that topic, even if they weren't necessarily from the latest news stories, blog posts, or Tweets.

The new Factery Labs start page pulls up a variety of themed topic pages that stream in the latest news tidbits. It also lets users start a fact search on any topic without leaving the page. Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Along with the pre-populated list of topics on each page, users can also type in whatever they want. This includes the suggested search topics that appear in each tab, and a full-time FactRank search engine that sits on the left of the page. Both can be bookmarked to view the next time they visit the page.

Oddly enough, the site is not launching with any kind of log-in system, meaning that you'll only be able to access what you've saved from the same browser on the same computer. That's not permanent though. In a call last week with CNET, Factery Labs' founder Paul Pedersen told me such a system will be added later on. In the meantime, it does make the site far less useful if you intend to use it between two computers.

Other things that will be coming in future iterations include a way to tell how fresh any of the facts are, as well as a way to flag facts you believe to be spammy or untrue.