Technology, Testimonials

Hooray for Rojo

Two years ago I started work and eventually gave up on toldme.com. The main reason is that it was a little too ambitious for my project management and database skills, not to mention my interest level relative to free time. (Getting a paying job can really destroy your ability to work on personal development projects.)

What I was looking for was a “news aggregator” that would help users surf more efficiently by consolidating new content from their favorite web sites in to one place. I wanted to take the aggregator concept two steps further. I wanted to have a “karma” system whereby you could mark the items you enjoyed reading, allowing toldme.com to evaluate karma ratings to discern your taste, and offer recommendations, a la Amazon.com. I then wanted to maybe take that a step further, and set up a “tipping” system, whereby you could put $10 in to the system via a credit card or PayPal, and if you read something you liked, you could “tip” the author, on the order of a quarter or fifty cents, and the author would get a credit in the system that they could, at some point, withdraw.

That would open the way to a profit model, whereby some cut could be taken off the financial transactions, not to mention investment profit off the float . . . more importantly, though, by providing a mechanism for aggregating microtransactions, content-producers, particularly little guys like me, could have a way to make a few bucks off their blogs. This would make blogs better — if you will earn some money based on the quality of your post, then you’ll write better stuff! (Maybe.)

But, that is not nearly as easy to get running as a successful interview with an employer.

Toldme.com served me as a functional aggregator for a little over a year, until through benign neglect it died under the load of its own database. I’ve since focused my occasional developer energy on lnk.to, joined with the lessons I learned from attempting toldme.com, which in its more modest ambitions, will more likely live up to my hopes.

But enough about me, I feel less bad about the death of toldme.com because Rojo looks to be a nice, fairly user-friendly aggregator, that has a recommendations feature. It can be a bit sluggish, but the UI is pretty nice, less cluttery than I remember Bloglines. It is dead easy to subscribe to web sites, being smart enough to find the RSS or Atom feed on its own, and you can sort your feeds out in to folders. For example, I can look in my “Comics” folder and out pops my morning funnies, all on one page!

It has Gmail-style tags, and features to recommend articles, so maybe it will live up to some measure of what I wanted from toldme.com. I think they are worried about scalability, so access is invite-only. I have two dozen invites I can share with interested parties. Drop me a line.

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