Home Vicito News: Personalized News Aggregation Via IM

Vicito News: Personalized News Aggregation Via IM

Vicito News is a new personalized news aggregation service that operates over instant messenger using an IM robot. The service currently works with AIM, Google Talk, and Windows Live Messenger. Vicito is something akin to Google News alerts for IM — you tell the service what to watch for, and it updates you at preset intervals via instant messenger when it finds new news matching your query.

Vicito would fall under the single stream aggregation category of news aggregators, in that it combines news from multiple sources about a specific topic into a single stream. You set up Vicito entirely through IM by telling the bot what keywords you want to track, how many stories you want maximum per update, and how frequently you want updates.

I told Vicito to track stories related to “baseball” and this afternoon I compared the results to those from SportsSpyder’s MLB page. Not surprisingly, they were both dominated by news about the trade of Johan Santana — baseball’s top pitcher — to the New York Mets. Somewhat surprisingly, though, I actually found Vicito’s news to be more varied. Beyond Satana I was getting stories about Roger Clemens visits the Astros training camp, pitcher Andy Pettitte, and Major Leaue Baseball’s umpire background check policy that were nowhere to be found amid the Santana noise (or were buried) on SportsSpyder.

Tracking “yankees” news on Vicito.

A lot of that might have to do with the source list. Vocito right now is drawing from 750 large and mainstream news sources that cover the gamut in terms of topic. SportsSpyder, on the other hand, is drawing from specialized sources that deal exclusively with baseball — so certainly the overlap and number of reporters covering the same big story will be greater.

But the experience does highlight one major problem with single stream aggregators like these: there is a lot repetition. Because Vicito is just posting a river of news that matches your search query, you end up getting the same story from multiple source. Unlike with meme-style aggregators like Google News or Techmeme (or perhaps, more on topic, Ballbug), which group similar stories, Vicito’s stream loses some appeal once you’ve seen the same story 5 times.

Nat Burke, founder of Vicito, is aware that eventually some sort of filtering will be necessary. “As we continue to grow our source volume, having something to weed out the noise will become essential,” he told me. “What eventual form that takes is up in the air at this point.”

Even with the noise problem, though, Vicito remains a useful service for getting breaking, topically filtered, news updates over IM. If instant messenger is your preferred method of communication, then you might find some utility in Vicito. Vicito is free to use, with a premium for-pay package that ups the limit on the number of news stories you can receive per update and how often.

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