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Ed Billingsgate

I'm all for an easier way to find interesting RSS feeds or blog posts that would jive with what I like to read, and I'm excited about what Outbrain is trying to do -- it is a huge step to take. I hope they're not going to try to re-invent the wheel, though, as a collaborative filtering engine is not something you just write from scratch (not one that is consistent and easy to maintain as your traffic scales). I'm hoping they can utilize a service such as CRITEO to outsource their collaborative matching needs to someone already working on offering a solution to that problem. If they do put that burden on someone else, hopefully they can work on marketing their idea to the blogosphere so that others can interact with the system, rather than offering a very closed-system that requires their own labor to get the momentum going.

I actually think that this idea of outbrain's is one that many are working on, but I think most will get stuck on the two biggest issues: (1) how to handle the actual collaboration engine, and (2) how to handle adding blogs to the engine and allowing users to tag or vote for what they like and dislike. In my opinion, both of these huge limitations can be resolved by outsourcing at least the collaboration engine.

Are you involved with outbrain at all?

Yaron Galai

Ed - Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

1st - I am a founder of outbrain... I apologize if that was not properly disclosed in the post above.

2nd - Criteo has done a great job on their collaborative filtering platform, but again - that's an example of 'filtering via recommendation'. I'm not sure how immediately applicable and useful this would be in the world of news and RSS. There are so many nuanced differences between those two worlds (consumption of products and consumption of content), that I think eventually we'll have different leaders emerge in each space, each specializing in their specific filtering task.

Ed Billingsgate

Yaron -- Thanks for the clarification. I just stumbled here from a Google search, but I'm a subscriber now :)

As for what Criteo is doing, you might be right but it is an intriguing thought that I'd like to see someone working on. What I noticed about Criteo is how they allow for topics (such as in the Movie matching demonstration by type), which would be similar to tagging a blog/RSS feed. By utilizing some sort of global tagging system, it should actually work fairly well to use a recommendation engine to perform a collaborative filter across a variety of RSS feeds of blogs that might not be topically similar but specific posts within those blogs might (based, again, on the tagging by either the blog author or by visitors who utilize whatever collaborative engine is used).

I'll be watching outbrain to see what their ideas are, I just thought I'd share what I've considered personally.

Thanks for replying!

Yaron Galai

Thanks for the ideas, and thanks for joining as a subscriber!

I agree there's lots of value in looking at tags (or other meta-data) and gaining intelligence from that to support the pure collaborative filtering. The question we were debating internally is whether we'd want to develop stuff like that internally and compete with existing services, or whether we'd focus on being good at what we set out to do and partner with others to pull in data like that. Where possible, I'd prefer to opt for the 2nd route.

Again - thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Keep those coming!

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