Share Your NewsGator/FeedDemon Clippings with ReadBurner

Coolness, I love it when different services and products start integrating.

NewsGator has partnered with ReadBurner, and as a result, it’s now dead simple to share your NewsGator clippings with ReadBurner. This means that FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, NewsGator Inbox and NewsGator Online customers can easily share their clipped articles with ReadBurner.

[From Nick Bradbury: Share Your NewsGator/FeedDemon Clippings with ReadBurner]

Attention Streams

We did two things this week that are interesting for those of you interested in how behavioral data is being used to drive new feature development in RSS.

First and foremost, we released Inbox 3.0 for Microsoft Outlook and it takes advantage of your attention stream in the form of APML to organize your feeds based on what you give the most attention to, in other words your reading habits.

By combining this “relevance metadata,” NewsGator can provide their users, like those using Inbox 3.0, with the most relevant news and information while also keeping track of what subscriptions you care most about and allowing you to export this information in APML (Attention Profiling Mark-up Language) so it can be shared with other services.

Shortly after releasing our free consumer clients I wrote a post about attention data that explained in some detail the distinction between attention streams focused on people vs. content. The above is an example of how we are using fully portable attention data streams in the form of APML to deliver new functions to users, but are not locking our customers in to our products. The attention streams around content are equally interesting to us.

Why is this attention data useful? Simply put, attention infers content authority and quality; if you share something I can make an assumption that you found it useful, which we can then use in our attention algorithm. The scoring generated by our attention algorithm can be used to make search more accurate, and it can be packaged as an API that we make available to our partners to enable their services to better filter and sort content.

To the point that we have attention streams that are content focused, we have been busy developing new features that expose this. We quietly turned on Activity Scoring in Feb and have been improving it since then. Simply put, we started feeding all those clicks, tags, bookmarks, and clippings events into an algorithm that scores each and every post in our network, which has grown to over 8 million new content items daily.

In NewsGator Online there is a sorting option that will sort the feed based on this Activity score. My personal experience is that it’s mildly useful but we’re not going far enough with it. It’s in the aggregate that activity scores become truly useful, such as sorting my clippings folder or looking at a group of feeds from an activity perspective.

The goal of activity scoring has never been to develop the be-all-end-all algorithm. We have always looked at this starting point as just that, a starting point, and it has further been our intention to both make this scoring available to others as well as integrate other RSS attention scoring measures with our own.

To this end we announced today that we have enabled another attention sorting option based on AideRSS. First a little background, Jevon MacDonald introduced me to Ilya Grigorik last July when they were first getting off the ground. We got more serious about doing something together when I joined NewsGator (I literally called Kevin and Ilya my first week with the company). I love what they are doing and use it regularly myself, but it’s important to recognize that what the are doing with Postrank is fundamentally different than what we are doing with Activity Scoring. We build a score from within our network, they build a score from external factors, so the two approaches are very complimentary.

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Right now we are offering AideRSS as a sorting option but this is just the start. We are also working with additional companies to bring integration of attention streams to bear on the broader problems of relevancy and discovery in RSS. Longer term I think there is a new generation of RSS products that we, as users, will benefit from in that they will go beyond the basic workflow of subscribing to a feed and then consuming a chronological stream of posts. There remains a great opportunity to present a techmeme-like interface that organizes content based on the content subject, sentiment, and related content. Lastly, we’re also bringing these features to our widget services so stay tuned!

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NewsGator Client Apps Want to Be FREE!

Today we announced that NewsGator Inbox for Outlook, FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, NewsGator Go! for Blackberry, Windows Mobile and iPhone, and NewsGator Online are now available for free. That’s right, the license costs you zero, zip, nada.

But that’s not all, we have also released new versions of FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, and Go! mobile apps, and a public beta for Inbox 3.0. We are continuing to invest in these products and where we are taking them is a function of expanding their market reach.

I’ve been a NetNewsWire user for years (I was almost giddy the first time Brent Simmons sent me an email), like many I believe that this is without question the leading desktop RSS client application for the Mac. Windows users feel the same way about FeedDemon, it sets the high water mark for what an RSS application should deliver. NewsGator Online was one of the first web-based readers and it has a tremendously loyal customer base, Inbox defined the category for Outlook feed plugins and our Go! mobile apps are built for power users.

You should rest assured that this is not a move to take an end-of-life product line and get some additional mileage out of it, we will continue to invest in these applications and we will continue to lead the market.

We could have thrown a lot of money at marketing our client applications, signed up a bunch of distribution deals, and possibly done some kind of embedded OEM deal, but in the end the most expedient path to expanding the reach of these applications is removing the one barrier that exists that prevents people from downloading or signing up for them – economics. In effect, giving up the license revenue that we generate with these products is a form of marketing expense.

So if we are generating zero dollars of revenue from the client applications that we used to sell, well what is our business? Today we generate the bulk of our revenue from enterprise software, which is predominately server products but also includes these client applications (we call them “endpoints”). The fact remains that we actually generate a significant number of enterprise leads from people who are using our client apps and then realize they would benefit from enterprise management products. By that logic, more client applications in use is more enterprise goodness for us.

Okay, so we get all these client products out in the market, generate lots of enterprise software business, are loved by millions… surely that cannot be what this is all about? It isn’t.

The RSS market is maturing beyond supporting multiple feed definitions and doing extras like handling attachments. The three pane reader style is well established and features like setting read states and clipping and sharing have incremental value. Our users simply don’t say they need more content, they say that they want better content and we have been responding with an expanding portfolio of “attention” enhancements.

Better content means feed discovery based on preferences and behaviors, network search and relevance filtering, in effect achieving community-based collaboration and filtering on top of what the system can do off keywords and word association. You will be hearing more about this in the months ahead, we have a slew of partnerships and product updates in the works that will deliver best in class features to help you find feeds that are map to your interest areas, and individual content items that are relevant to the posts you are clipping and sharing.

Good relevance features depend on good behavioral data, in other words we will benefit from the surge of new users on our client applications in that we get a lot of data about subscription patterns and feed reading habits. We collect the subscription and behavioral data and anonymize it, then use it to improve the quality of our search results and relevance features in much the same way that search engines use search results to improve future searches.

Users can opt-out of the data collection mechanism and run standalone; we hope you don’t but we’re certainly not going to stop you from doing that or penalize you if you do. We have also rewritten our privacy policy, we wish to avoid any confusion or concern about what we are collecting and how we are using it, this policy is available for review at http://www.newsgator.com/privacy.aspx.

The new features we are building into our client applications and in our syndication services business (widgets) will take advantage of the behavioral data in a big way. Our partners who are using our APIs to access our content network will also have access to this data and our widget customers will be able to plug in network search for additional relevance features.

This is an exciting day for NewsGator and for me personally. When I joined the company I was motivated by the belief that the company had a clear vision for where RSS in the enterprise and consumer markets was going, this move not only highlights that vision but puts our money where our mouth is.

Here’s a FAQ that includes information not in the press release.