Learn little about a lot very quickly

So I saw a review on a new app, Summly. Basically the gist of the app is it summarizes news stories using some AI logarithm to create short summaries of longer articles. So I guess its for web users who have absolutely no attention span whatsoever

I gave it a go and downloaded it, then went through the process of organizing the topics and customizing which sources I wanted or didn’t want. Sadly, it seems you’re limited to topics and sources the app’s creators thought were important.

You can arrange the topics in order of preference. Once you’ve chosen the sources, you’re set to let the app run.

When you open the app it defaults to a home page with whatever headline is trending. You have no control of that. So if Justin Beiber is trending, the app opens with a headline on him.

When you get to your topics page, you select a topic, say Science, and it opens the first trending headline in Science with a summarized paragraph on the story.

The review I read of Summly claimed the summary paragraphs Summly provides are very accurate and well parsed. I found them wanting.

For instance, there was a summary of Antarctic drilling being halted. The summary told me “what” — that they are drilling to find a fresh water lake buried deep in the ice — but to find out “why” they had to halt, which was the reason for the story in the first place, I had to go to the actual article source. Which to me defeats the entire purpose of the app.

For me, the app Pulse is far superior, giving much better options to personalize. You can create your own topics and then search for news sources to plug in. I found the review about Summly through Pulse.

Summly does let you create a topic. You type in a topic or person and then it pulls all headlines it finds based on that phrase. At first this seemed interesting to me. I created “superheroes,” “science fiction,” “fantasy,” and “Doctor Who.”

And they worked, to a degree. Sci-Fi brought in trending headlines on that topic and “superheroes” did the same. But “fantasy” only brought in football topics, which isn’t the fantasy I was looking for and calling it “fantasy fiction” brought in no results. And “Doctor Who” was a mixed bag with articles on The Doctor, but also articles on ANY doctor.

So I’ve since deleted the Summly app. It just seems to me to be the very problem with society and the Internet: information in tiny, digestible chunks that leave you intellectually starving.

Forget Summly and get Pulse instead. You’ll be much happier as a result.

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