July 18, 2010

KickPost Predicts Popular Posts for Top Tech News

As technology news sites have proliferated in the last few years, so too have technology news aggregators looking to find the best of the Web and surface it quickly - either through social voting mechanisms, insightful editorial picks, or complicated algorithms. In addition to the Diggs and Slashdots of the world, one finds Hacker News and Techmeme as the gold standards offering the front page of today's tech news. Now, there is a new site that has entered the fray - though minimalist for now - armed with what the founder calls a predictive algorithm which just might find top stories faster than anybody else.

The site is called KickPost (http://www.kickpost.com) and it comes from the hand of Caleb Elston @calebelston, the vice president of products at Justin.TV, who is also known to frequent blog readers here as the man behind Toluu, the RSS discovery site, and the gift recommendation site, Kallow.

One Item from KickPost Shows The Time of Post, Source and an Excerpt

In a discussion on Hacker News about the launch of KickPost, Elston describes the site as a "new tech news aggregator that uses a predictive algorithm based on historically popular stories to predict which stories will be popular in realtime." He adds, "We are about 20min faster at predicting hot stories than Techmeme."

Another Top Story on KickPost

The site displays the headlines of predicted top stories, as well as a short excerpt, the author's name and the post source - with the headline linking to the original story and the source to the blog's main page. Stories are ordered chronologically, with the most recent at the top, and older ones below, with a time stamp showing how recently the posts entered KickPost's index, and the page automatically refreshes when new stories enter the index.

From a quick perusal of the site, it's clear that top tech stories are making it into the index - and they are being found fast. But the site sources are very common to so-called A-List blogs that dominate many other sites, including VentureBeat, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, and Lifehacker. Where more editorially-driven sites, including Techmeme, have an advantage is through manual discovery - something a purely algorithm-driven site like KickPost can't catch. The one-off top stories from new sources will have a tough time making the index, from what I can tell, even after scrolling back 2 days into past KickPost content.

Given Caleb's history for parsing RSS feeds and finding how your own likes intersect with those from the community, I would anticipate where KickPost would really gain value over the competition is through personalization and building the top stories in near real-time based on individual's preferences, not just through beating Techmeme and others by a handful of minutes with headlines from top blogs. But it's a site we'll be watching.

Find KickPost at http://www.kickpost.com/ and on Twitter at @kickpost.

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