Ensembli – a solution to information overload?

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Ensembli is an interesting website which I think starts to look at ‘search’ in a slightly different way. That said, Ensembli doesn’t really sit alongside Google or Bing – it’s different. In some ways it’s more like an RSS reader, in that it brings stories to you as they become available/published.

But here’s the clever bit, whereas you have to go and find the RSS ‘feeds’ to follow (eg, you might have  set up an RSS feed for BBC News stories after visiting the BBC News website), Ensembli does that for you. Ensemli takes a keyword that you give it, and regularly monitors/searches the web for new stories relating to your chosen topic. Not only that, if you don’t initially like what it brings you, it will learn from your actions (eg, delete/read), and bring you more relevant stories in future.

Per the Ensembli blog:

About Ensembli

We believe feed readers, aggregators and alerters are way too difficult for mainstream users still comfortable with search engines – and they confuse popular content with relevant content.

Relevance is an intensely personal thing and, at its heart, Ensembli knows who you are, what interests you, and what excites you…getting smarter about you the more you use it. It’s effortless to use, continually acting on your behalf to surface your own must-see stories, and keeping you informed while saving you time and effort.

Ensembli’s technology scans, filters and collates stories, from across the web, that relate to your interests. The more you read, discard, or even ignore the stories Ensembli finds, the more it’ll be able to locate the stories that you’ll really like. Just to be extra clever, as your tastes change, Ensembli will be able to automagically keep up with you!

Google Alerts does something similar in that it will monitor certain key words and summarise them on a page and send you emails also, but doesn’t summarise as well as Ensembli does.  Nor does it appear to learn the same way that Ensembli does (Google Alerts appears to be more ‘robotic’). I’m also aware that Ensembli are doing some interesting and innovative development, on things that no-one else is doing.

So, is Emsembli worth the time to monitor yet another website? Is it a potential solution to information overload, or just another source of info to monitor?Can’t I do it all with Google?  Google is very flexible, but requires you to search, rather than the content being brought to you.

Ensembli is quick to scan/follow, informs you of its findings by email, and tends to provide focused and timely results.  Mostly the findings are relevant and interesting (but tend to be covering ‘news’ topics rather than broad web content).

Ensembli doesn’t yet always return great content for some of my chosen feeds, but it claims to learn over time, so maybe that will change.  Also, Ensembli has to be selective, otherwise it would do that ‘Google Thing’, and dump unwieldy numbers of search results: “402,000,000 results (0.25 seconds)”. However, being selective means potentially missing the right search results.  I’m also not sure if Ensembli is yet capturing pages from blogs in their search results – that would be an added bonus too (Google Alerts covers News, Blogs, Web, Videos, and Groups).

To summarise: Ensembli is a useful addition to existing search options, with it’s alternative approach to Google, Bing, etc. and RSS.

What are your experiences with Ensembli?

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One Response

  1. Hi Matthew, thanks for the great write up.

    We’re really trying to bring RSS to a wider audience and we’re guessing that people are more interested in following a topic, than a publisher.

    There are some smarts going on under the hood too, we track how you react to each story – from binning it to sharing – and use that to ‘guestimate’ how relevant an item was to your interest.

    Watch this space – we have some more innovative features coming shortly!

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