Thursday, March 31, 2005

Take Home Digest

I always wonder what I should read over this weekend, or any weekend for that matter. I surf the net speedily and find myself some nice article(s) to read and feel happy about the 2 S's that I need to enjoy.
Wouldn't it be good, if we had a a site that lets me generate a digest for myself to read over the weekend? Think about it.
I go to this site and am presented with a range of subjects (gardening, pottery, management, law, medicine, space technology, etc.) and a link alongside each to let me know the kind of stories that are showcased this week. Wait, wait, wait. Let's go through this slowly.

I launch the webpage of this site. Nice presentation. Not too jazzy and loaded with flash, but soft and mellow and visually preparing me for the weekend. I login. The site welcomes me personally and asks me whether I liked the articles (the articles are listed with a set of radio buttons beside each, allowing me to let the site know whether an article was interesting, ok or not to my taste). I can choose to ignore this query and let the site know that I wish to proceed with creating my digest. I am now presented with a list of my earlier templates of digest designs (each one of them is given a name like "Hobbies", "Adventure activities" or "Management and Knowledge"). I can choose any one of these templates or specify a new one. Let's assume that I go ahead and specify a new one. I click on the new Digest Collection and am taken to a page which list topics (based on the history of frequency of choice, i.e. if over the past few digests, I chose "Carpentry" more often than any other topic, then Carpentry will at the top) in a very interesting format. Its not a simple tabular list of topics but in a colourful and attractive format. A large number of Post-Its (with small thumbnail pictures) or like a magazine rack or something similar.
So I get to choose a few topics (max, say, 9) for my Take Home Digest, and then click on the compile button. The site builds a magazine for me full with TOC and allows me to download it as a full colour PDF document. All I need to do is download it and maybe print it out and take it home.
That is one happy weekend ahead for me.

There is a lot more that can be done once we have this idea in place. We could add a list of links which are related to the main article. We could highlight a few key phrases and link them to a search on Google or Vivisimo. We could have the feedback facility built into the document itself, so that, once the reader is done reading an article he can click on the relevant feedback icon (represented as fresh flowers, dry flowers and brickbats). The site will use a neat algo to keep polishing its compilation algorithm.
Money? Yeah, we need to think of that as well. Maybe the site could create different levels of memberships:
Only free articles
50-50 free and paid articles
No restrictions
Preference based (member can choose to receive articles from N Magazines + free articles)

These logisitics can be decided later. I am more concerned about the idea.

7 Comments:

Blogger wookie said...

Great idea for anyone who loves to read/learn.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Eroteme said...

Thanks. :-)
Any improvements? If you were a user of this service, (you might need to close your eyes for a while) what else would you expect?

5:50 PM  
Blogger Xena said...

The idea is Awesome.

Probably such sites exist, 'cos reading this rang a bell. I din't remember when and where I read about it before...or if I thought of this idea myself and am now imagining that I read about it. Dunno!

10:22 PM  
Blogger Eroteme said...

Thanks.
Please try and remember. I would like to visit such sites and figure out what else might help this one...
Yeah right. Now everyone thought about this idea, didn't they?? ;-)

10:37 PM  
Blogger Sridhar said...

Hi,

Was surfing the web and I landed up here. Well, this is a really nice idea. I currently do something similar by using RSS feeds I pull off sites onto thunderbird. This basically gives me a "digest" of sorts that gets updated daily. Takes me a couple of minutes to scan the feed titles and pick the ones I want to read.

Maybe you could think of RSS enabling the whole site ?

7:32 AM  
Blogger Eroteme said...

Sridhar,
You are right, RSS would definitely be one of our sources for the site, but sometimes, we would also need broad specialists (oxymoron?) to hand pick some articles else things might be too mechanical. RSS also usually picks only from those sites that we have subscribed to although google/ZDNet alerts would search for a string and send snippets of all those articles which contained the search string (ZDNet's service is restricted to articles published on ZDNet's site). Yep, we would need to build a comprehensive approach...

Thanks for stopping by...

7:39 AM  
Blogger P-H-A-N-T-O-M said...

Hey, theres a small thing attached to it other than using RSS.

Assuming you do find out few articles on othr sites to compile this in the website you are talking about, but you cannot get access to all teh articles...some require registration, some payment..Even if the user gets registered to this site with full membership, how does he get access to the other paid articles....whats the kinda of tieup with those sites???
Lot of questions in drawing the contents from others without violations.....

But all in a whole, very holistic approach to read and thats interesting !!!

7:34 AM  

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