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Pluribo summarizes Web content, starting with reviews

Dig through Amazon customer reviews quickly with Pluribo.

When I'm parsing product reviews on I usually look at two things after the price tag: the rating and how many people have reviewed it. This simple system tends to breaks down when it comes time to dig deeper into those sometimes thousands of reviews, which is where Pluribo comes in handy.

This small browser extension will go over everyone's ratings and pull out bits and pieces it finds noteworthy based on a similar words that pop up in rated reviews. The developer says it currently works the best on electronics items but that other items will soon work better with the automation. Trying to use it on something like books, movies or CDs (all Amazon's bread and butter sales) will simply give you an error message.

I gave it a spin on several electronics I own, and it came up with fantastic results. One of them in particular, an iPod nano, was one of the better examples of how the tool can be useful. In its analysis, it showed that one of the most reoccurring user complaints was scratching, while nearly everyone else raved over its features and overall design. Not a bad take considering it parsed over 700 reviews in just a few seconds. Better yet, I didn't have to read any of them.

This got me thinking about how wonderful this would be for some news tracking services. For example, Google News will pull up thousands of related headlines to major stories, but if you want to quickly digest it you'll have to depend on a site that will summarize the content. A tool like Pluribo could simply go through each article and pull out keywords. Such a task for every news story requires a seriously good analysis engine--not to mention a user understanding of potential error, but the potential here is huge.

One thing that sets tools like Pluribo apart from human-powered systems is that it's doing all the number crunching per user request, meaning the synopsis won't be outdated or need to be redone at a later date. Other attempts at review aggregation for consumer electronics include Pricegrabber and Retrevo which both grab professional and user reviews for easy parsing; however, neither will chart out those reviews.

I'm hoping future iterations will forgo the need for you to install anything and instead make use of the sidebar or use an IFrame instead. As it stands you'll need to have Firefox to give this one a spin.

[found on Makeuseof]

Once Pluribo is installed, any electronic item (and soon other things) on will be analyzed based on user reviews. The good and the bad will be picked out and charted for the sake of your eyes (and time). CNET Networks
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