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TopicalityAre you familiar with the word (or is it a modern day fact) – information overload? Or perhaps the more street wise phrase – swamped with info? A typical net junkie like me has RSS, email newsletters, web search, Twitter and Google Alerts set up to scavenge content from the web. The delete button gets used the most when I am not able to read through all the content that the above tools churn out.

The flood of information notwithstanding, the search and “˜hunger’ for more doesn’t cease. It’s almost like the information we have is never enough. Perhaps that explains why I tried out the web application called Topikality and maybe by the time you finish with this post, you will also give it a whirl.

Topikality (Beta) gathers for you what it thinks are articles of your interest. It’s like a filter for all the clutter. Sort of like an alternative to Google Alerts 10 Uses of Google Alerts For A Freelancer 10 Uses of Google Alerts For A Freelancer Read More but it’s a bit different from Google’s service.

The site explains the intelligence behind its search, collect and deliver technology. Let me just elaborate it a bit over here with my own example.

I like reading articles on technology, especially web apps and freeware. My second area of interest is about life hacks – self improvement articles. So, I defer to Topikality and its search intelligence to scour it out for me. A free registration and log-in and I reach My topiks page where I need to setup my “˜topiks’ of interest.

google alerts


So, here I start creating a new “˜topik’. Each field has a nice help balloon next to it. Fill in the fields with the kind of keywords you want Topikality to search for. There is also an Advanced Query builder where you can build a Boolean search using search operators. Save”¦and your first “˜topik’ gets created.

Similarly, you can create many more search filters for the kinds of articles you want delivered. For building search queries, you can refer to a few articles and see what the common keywords they use. I have also put in a few relevant websites of my own using the suggest a web site or blog link on the sidebar.

google alerts

Aha! I see that I already have a few articles lined up. Topikality has gone to work and searched the internet for articles relevant to my keyword suggestions.

google alerts

According to Topikality, it is not just a notification system like Google Alert which delivers pages that merely contain the keywords without looking into the context of the whole article.

This is where Topikality’s intelligence kicks in and asks for a bit of active participation from my end. In order to fine tune Topikality’s relevance, I need to train it a bit. By voting each article returned by Topikality’s search according to more like this or less like this, I begin training the system to see what I like and begin delivering me similar articles. Topikality says that after I vote 50 or so times I would have fine tuned the search algorithm that the web app uses.

systems similar to google alerts

I don’t need to login to Topikality to get my daily “˜unclutter’ of articles. I am getting it all into my inbox. With a click on the RSS button, I can also get each of my Topiks into my feed reader. The Preferences is the place where I can set things like email update periods, the visibility of the voting frame etc.

systems similar to google alerts

So Will Topikality Replace Google Alerts Which I Have Set Up?

Perhaps. Topikality, with its feature to spot trends in the articles I like (or dislike), gives me more control to find the needles in the web haystack. The web app’s Statistical Machine Learning technology looks at the whole context of the article instead of just keywords. The promise of the site is that the longer I vote an article, the better it will get for me.

In order for me to tag an article with my preference, Topikality needs to deliver the article to me through a search. I couldn’t find any information on how Topikality searches for the articles i.e. which search engine (s) does it use. Does it go as deep as a well established web crawler like Google? If it does, then the allied intelligent technology is certainly an improvement over Google Alerts.

Well, I am still voting and the results are coming in. Some hits and some misses as is usual for a search engine based service. What’s more important is that I am getting a pile to read.

Yes, there is so much stuff out there. Why not give Topikality a try and get some into your mail inbox.

  1. Edith Meatplow
    February 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I would normally use Google Alert for an information dragnet, but, with the way Google fumbled the introduction of 'Buzz', I don't think I'll be concentrating my eggs in Google's basket. Thank you for showing me 'Topikality'. I will give it a try.

  2. George
    December 2, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I can't find how to log in to Topikality with my Google open-id. More instructions are needed on site...

    • Philip Scott
      December 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm

      At present you can't log on with Open-Id. This is on our development list. Watch this space.

  3. Philip Scott
    December 2, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for featuring topikality on MakeUseof. The article is both extensive and accurate.

    Finding the needle in the haystack is exactly the problem we were trying to resolve when starting this project. Please provide us with your feedback on how effective we have addressed this issue. Every piece of feedback helps us improve the system.

    A comment on topikality's content and coverage of the internet. We are working hard to increase the depth of our search for quality sources of information. This is our next development priority and you should see significant improvements over the coming couple of months.

    We hope everyone likes topikality and it delivers you the needles in the web haystack you are looking for.


    • Saikat
      December 2, 2009 at 6:16 am

      Glad you liked the post. But could you elaborate on how your app searches the internet? Do you use your own algorithm (My guess is you do)...or do you use the regulars?

      • Philip Scott
        December 2, 2009 at 7:06 am

        Your guess is correct. We do all our own searching. We use a combination of crawling the net, with a focus on the sites suggested by users, and subscribing to popular RSS feeds.

        We are focusing on expanding the internet search over the next few months.

  4. shopping blog
    December 1, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    its a cool tool for optimization

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