Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Findory Mobile

Findory just launched a simplified interface, Findory Mobile, designed for the smaller screens on mobile devices. To use it, just point your mobile's web browser to mobile.findory.com.

There were quite a few people using the normal Findory.com websites on mobile devices, which already displays fairly well, but it is a bit clumsier than it should be.

Findory Mobile is a clean and simple page. Content is stripped down. Navigation is at the bottom. It is quick and easy to skim top headlines. There is also a new feature, a [more like this] button, that adds more personalized articles to the page without enduring the lengthy page load times of other websites.

Just like the normal Findory.com site, Findory Mobile learns from the news you read, bubbling the most interesting articles to the top, focusing your attention on news you might otherwise miss.

Break out your Treo or your cell phone and give it a whirl!


Arnab Nandi said...

First fifteen headings from the page right now:

Brother, sister held in slayings / Police say each killed 1 of 2 women found dead in Richmond, S.F. park
Jury convicts stepfather in syringe rape
Cruise plays down 'placenta plan'
Suit says district ignored predator
Hopes fade for dead boy's mother
Fonda cancels anti-Iraq war tour
Okla. Man Charged With 1st-Degree Murder
Nurse guilty of killing patients
Tests Can't Confirm Bear Is Girl's Killer
Why isn't my workout working?
2 Duke lacrosse players arrested on rape charges
Man Allegedly Shot by Rapper Proof Dies
Manila reduces rape charges against 3 Marines
Black holes collide in the best simulation yet
Phone leads police to suspect in nun's death

It seems the world is in a VERY sordid state of affairs right now.

Greg Linden said...

Heh, heh. Yep, a sordid state of affairs indeed.

But, on a more serious note, it is interesting to compare that list with the most popular headlines on Google News right now:

Apple Needs to Make OS X Open-Source
Rumsfeld digs in, rejecting calls to resign
Tom to eat afterbirth
Man allegedly shot by Proof dies of gunshot wound
Can President Bush stop Iran's nuclear programme?
Enron's Skilling Denies Earnings Pressure Forced Bad Asset Buys
Oil prices settle above $71 a barrel
Bolin judge issues gag order
Israel's Leaders Blame Hamas for Bombing
Namibia: It's Out! Brangelina's Baby Plan
Update 8: Dutch Teen Held in Holloway Disappearance
Health providers increase vigilance for mumps
White House Easter Egg Roll a little queer

Not identical, of course, but roughly similar, don't you think? A sample of the sensationalist and strange mixed with the important news?

So, the page you first see when you first come to Findory is not that different than what you might see at other news sites.

The big difference is what happens as you use the news site. On Findory, the news you see changes as you read articles.

Findory learns from what you read, adapts to your interests, and builds you your own front page of news. It is personalized for you, helping you discover news you might otherwise miss.

Anonymous said...

This is great, just added to my phone's bookmarks. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Greg, is that what you mean by personalization? Personalized recommendations for newsreading? On that I'm 100% behind you. Non-query-based new item discovery is perfect for personalization algos.

But when you're talking standard user 2-3 word query/search, I still think you have to be careful with personalization.

Anyway, congrats on the release!

Guru said...

I am somehow getting this feeling that since we are going for so much of personalization ,won't it lead to our being in a restricted domain ,where we even by mistake won't know what will be happening outside of our so called "_Personalized_World_" ,will we lose the excitement of getting sth new ,which holds our imagination since after personalization we will get only the related/similar things ;)

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you scan back through the last month's worth of comments on this blog. I talk about it a little more there.

But in a nutshell, I think personalized search (as opposed to personalized recommendation like Greg is doing) is a bad idea because one's specific information needs change. And if I'm looking for information that doesn't fit my "typical" profile, personalization is actually going to give worse results than the non-personalized, generic list.

For example: Suppose the search engine learns that I am a programmer, and therefore optimizes for programming-related pages, especially when I type in a programming-related word. So I type "scheme", and instead of pulling up pages about plots and plans, it finds pages about Lisp and functional programming.

Ok, fine. But now, I am interested in buying jewelry for my wife. Because even programmers find themselves in situations like that. So I type in "ruby", hoping to find information about gemstones. Instead, I get pages about web development. All because of personalization. Similarly, suppose I get back from the zoo with my kids, and they loved the snake exhibit. So I type in "python", hoping to find out more information about little Timmy's favorite snake. And I get pages about interpreted programming languages. Again, personalization does worse than just generic results.. because my information needs change.

Now, go to Ask.com. Type in "python". You'll get a ranked list.. and they actually also think that the programming language site comes first. However, look to the right. If you actually meant snakes, you can click on one of those links, and clarify if you meant "Burmese Python" or "Pythons for sale", etc. You can also expand your search into more generic or related terms, such as "snakes" or "cobra".

Instead of making the choice for you, as personalization does, Ask lets you decide for yourself what you actually meant by your search. Maybe personalization is fine, when it works. But when it doesn't work, it really doesn't work. So the user needs either (1) a way of turning personalization off, or (2) tools such as those that Ask offers, to reinstruct the engine when things go wrong.

Sorry, as usual this became longer than I wanted it to be. But you get the point. Oh, and FWIW, I do not work for Ask. I only use them as one example. MSN and Vivisimo are also doing tool-based search.

Oh, and one more thing: The reason I think personalization is ok for recommendation, as Greg is doing, but not ok for search is that with recommendation/news stories one does not have an explicit information need that is in any danger of being overridden by the personalization. With news, one is interested in a broad topic area, and so personalization is fine. With 2-3 word queries, on the other hand, one has a specific information need. And there is a significant danger of personalization overriding my intentions on that information need. That's basically why I consider personalization dangerous in the latter situation.

Thoughts, Matt? Agree? Disagree? More variables to add to the equation?