Many smart people have recognized that they is too much good content on the web with the explosion of user created content. It is very hard for anyone to filter it to track the good stuff in their niche areas of interest. I have written about news aggregators like newsvine and digg. These sites mostly rely on user contributions and then ratings by other users to filter the good stuff. This is one approach but it is limited.
Cesar Brea recently pointed me to a new tool my Yahoo that takes a different approach. Yahoo Pipes is “an interactive feed aggregator and manipulator. Using Pipes, you can create feeds that are more powerful, useful and relevant” according to their site. What that means is you can set up RSS feeds than combine several data sources and then have it do some filtering for you. It is way to create mashups with RSS feeds. For example, a popular one that Cesar likes is “NYTimes/ Flickr mashup that serves you an RSS feed of Flickr photos based on an analysis of the content (such as looking for the most frequent keywords) in the NYTimes feed.”
Cesar also created a pipe to spider several Miami Dolphin related news sites (that’s a football team) for what their new coach Cam Cameron is going to do to fix the offense. How niche can you get. However, I am sure that our own New England Patriots football coach, Bill Belichuck, is already a subscriber.
Tim O’Reilly calls this "milestone in the history of the internet" and we know he never over hypes anything. But it does seem like a great tool for those relatively few (depending on your perspective) who are good at visual programming. It is promoted as a tool for non-experts but that is a relative term. It is still not ready for the non-technical person. Here is what Anil Dash, Jeremey Zawodny, and Tech Crunch has to say. Jeremey works for Yahoo but he also seems to be objective. He and Cesar were also cases in our business blog book.
I think this is a move in the right direction and, as several have pointed out, Yahoo is leading the way for a chance. Good for them. It is free for the moment, also a good idea.