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Social news portals wikio, outside.in

Wednesday, 23 May 2007 — by

Amazed by the amount of click traffic through my del.icio.us bookmarks for both wikio, the democratic news portal and outside.in, the geo-targeted news portal, I thought I ought to commit some pixels to screen in the form of a ‘Lite’ review…

Sucker as I am for a slick UI (User Interface) I’ve been generally very impressed with the look & feel of both wikio and outside.in

This also seemed like a good chance to continue a theme I started earlier – albeit with a more substantiative / serious approach – and highlight two new web services as & when I find them.

Taking a look inside outside.in

When I look at outside.in, I see a cross between Craigslist and myFeedz, if only in a superficial way.

The main window is split into the three very clean and uncluttered columns, with the default location being Brooklyn, New York, USA. So there’s a very obvious American slant to things.

However, while outside.in isn’t exactly breaking new ground, I do find myself being won over by the at-a-glance simplicity of things:

Welcome to outside.in — the best way to discover the people, places, and conversations in your community.”

And there’s more than a passing feature resemblance to the still experimental Yahoo! OurCity, currently sunning itself in Bangalore and Delhi, India.

So you have things like Top Stories and Comments, Top Tags which are as common-as-mushrooms these days, Top Places by Category and Newest Stories and Comments. All quite neatly arranged in regimented fashion.

There’s a point! Maybe there’s a chance to knit in Craigslist classifieds? After all, this could be accomplished very neatly and in a very unobtrusive way.

But it’s not for me to set their agenda. I’m sure they have their own ideas on monetizing outside.in over time.

Work the web with wikio

The shear immediacy of wikio is the killer feature for me.

Sure, there’s shades of Digg in there, but I think wikio has the edge, here. Much more of the screen is made use of, and the UI is both slick and minimal.

I say immediacy as the killer feature. The ability to empower the visitor to do complex stuff easily is an art form not easily mastered.

Like adding a Tab, which is as simple as clicking a button. But that’s only the begging. This tab needs Tags!

You want to add Tags? Just select from the starter selection and then the list changes to those more associated with your initial choice.

Give the Tab a name, and you’re done!

In the top right is a sitemap, which lists the Categories, like Technology, Sciences, Podcast et cetera, but what really hones that at-a-glance simplicity and UI goodness is the visual ergonomics at work.

Of those Categories that’re related, they’re given a coloured bullet point which then links to any & all related Categories in the sitemap.

Bliss.

Taking the idea of power and simplicity a step further, there’s a ton of stuff you can do when submitting articles.

In addition to the obligatory title and URL fields, you also get a rich text editor, so you can really go to town on the comments text area. And there’s also the option to add an image, too.

Sublime.

And finally…

It’s about ‘ownership’ of the news. The knowledge that you broke a story, or at least broke a story to a like-minded collection of people.

But for outside.in, it’s more than that, it’s making local news relevant and being unabashed in you publicizing that news.

Cat stuck up a tree rescued by firemen? Old news. Happens everywhere.

But it’s a lunchtime saviour for any office worker stuck in their cubical if that cat got stuck up a tree that you just happen to drive by every morning on your way to work.

And for wikio, it’s about making news not just relevant, but deciding whether that news is any good or not.

Which makes one wonder if the larger publications take not of whether any of their articles get buried on the likes of Digg, or just not voted for on wikio. Or, whether they ought to consider getting some kind of deal with outside.in to channel their local news with a little more focus…

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