A New Look at Personalized News

Israeli startup Spotback, which I’ve been tracking for a while, will launch tonight (Monday) at 10 PM PST. Spotback is a personalized news portal that learns from user behavior over time to deliver the news that’s just right for them.

Web 2.0 news sites usually fall into one of two categories. Sites like Digg and Newsvine take user feedback and actions to affect what the entire community sees. Personalized sites like Findory change what they present to a single user based on his or her actions over time. Spotback falls into the latter category – a personalized news site that changes for each user over time based on what they like and don’t like (although they also have a Top Stories tab with the most highly rated news from all users).

Each news item on Spotback can be rated by a user, saved, and/or emailed to others (click on image to right for larger view). Users may comment on any story. The source of the news item can also be marked, to tell Spotback to include more news like this, or to block items like it (or from that source). Finally, users can also customize the page to include whatever news categories they like (business, sports, etc.) or an RSS reader widget, which allows a user to add any news source that may not already be included in the Spotback index.

Here’s what I like best about Spotback – there is no requirement to set up a user account, you can simply access the site (personalized via cookie) if you choose to. If you do create a user account, you can rate other users and receive personalized news based on what they like and dislike, too.