Keeping up with the news is pretty much a full-time job these days. Thankfully, recommendation services like Zite and Flipboard have figured out some ways of keeping their users informed without overloading them with information. Ideally, though, a recommendation service wouldn’t just learn about the articles you read in a certain app and what you or your friends share on Twitter or Facebook, but it would also look at what you read in your browser throughout the day.
Msgboy is trying to do just that. It reads what you read as you browse the Internet and automatically subscribes you to the sites you regularly visit. It then ranks new stories based on how interesting they will likely be for you and notifies you whenever it detects a new and potentially interesting story. Msgboy only works in Chrome right now, but will soon support other browsers as well.
The company behind Msgboy is Superfeedr, which is better known for providing real-time feed publishing and ingesting infrastructure to developers and publishers than consumer-facing products. I talked to Superfeedr’s founder Julien Genestoux earlier this week and he noted that Msgboy wants to be a “new kind of homepage” that learns from its users’ actions and shows them the news they missed while they were away from their computers.
At the same time, though it is also a way to bring the power of technologies like PubSubHubbub, XMPP and websockets to regular users, as well as a way to improve Superfeedr’s own infrastructure. Msgboy, Genestoux told me, helps Superfeedr understand what’s popular or which feeds are likely spam, for example, and then surface this information to its own subscribers (all while ensuring its users’ privacy, of course).
While Msgboy will try to understand your preferences by itself, it also offers users +/- buttons to voice their preferences. I found that a little bit of training goes a long way in helping the service give significantly better recommendations.
Msgboy’s code and database isn’t stored in the cloud, by the way. It only runs in your browser – not on the service’s own servers.
Another nice privacy-related aspect of the service is that it’s completely open source. If you’re so inclined, you can get the code from GitHub and compile it yourself. Given that Msgboy always watches over your shoulder as you browse the web, making the code open source should make users feel more secure about running it without the fear of divulging their private data to a third party.
Genestoux gave us 250 invites for our readers. Just click here to download the Chrome plugin and claim yours (note: the download will immediately start after you click on the link).