A Closer Look at Ozmozr

Web 2.0

Ozmozr (a microformat-aware aggregator / resource sharing / social site) has been getting a fair amount of press
since it’s alpha release last week, but some people seem unclear about how the site can be used. I sit in the same room as the folks
who are designing Ozmozr, and it’s interesting to see it evolve and
improve. This article is an attempt to go to the source (the creators)
and pull together some details about what Ozmozr is all about.

Part of the idea of Ozmozr is to make it easier to bring together and share Web content (links, blogs, photos, etc)
with specific people or groups. But it’s more than just the blending of
social bookmarking service, social site and news aggregator. The
combination allows for some new possibilities. Ozmozr’s technical lead,
Justin, explains the main features/goals of Ozmozr on his blog:

1. Find people will the same interests as you.
Many of us have
blogs, use digg, flickr, last.fm etc. These services tell a lot about
who we are and what we are interested in. Pump that data into a single
location and you have a power mechanism via tags to find people that
share your interests. Go to the user page. Then click on the tag filter
tab. Not a lot there yet, but for example if you click on “Lego” you
will find at least one geeky guy that likes Legos. That tag is based on
things that I have Ozmozed and on tags that come in through my blog.
This is still a bit buggy. We’ll get it fixed.

2. Join groups and save your friends from needless IM and email spam.
We all find something we just have to share. Do you friends a favor.
Ozmozr instead of IMing it. When you Ozmoze a page it can go to a group
or to friends and they can view it when they feel like it. At some
point (soon I hope) we’ll let you send the page to your del.icio.us
account when you Ozmoze it so you don’t have to do both.

3. Tag based news filtering.
We still are getting this to work,
but at some point in the near future you will be able to add a feed to
a group and specify that only posts tagged with certain tags make it
into the group. This is to support my own problem. I post all kinds of
stuff to my personal blog. I don’t want 90% of it [in] say the Ruby on Rails
group. So I subscribe the Ruby on Rails group to the Justinball.com
blog and specify that only posts containing ruby make it to the group.
Same with say a delicious or flickr feed.

4. News aggregator.
We can’t compete with the big news readers like
bloglines and Google reader, but we do have a simple reader that lets
you browse the feeds you have collected via the tags that those feeds
are outputting. I don’t know that anyone else is doing that just yet.

5. Microformats.
Add your blog and then put something into a post
that contains a date marked up with the hcalendar microformat. You’ll
find that it shows up in your list of events. We also parse the html
from any page that is ozmozed. Microformats are very cool. We will be
adding an ical parser sometime soon as well. So, eventually you will be
able to subscribe to your buddy’s blog. He makes a post and puts in an
event. Ozmozr parses that. You then use your Google calendar to
subscribe to the ical that Ozmozr outputs. Viola, the post your buddy
made magically shows up on your Google calendar.

While Ozmozr is up and running, it is definitely still
alpha software. That’s not an excuse, it’s a willingness to put
something out there that is still being developed. I talked to Justin
about all the traffic and new users who have signed up this week, and
he was clearly not expecting all the attention Ozmozr has gotten so
early on. Here is his reply to the FLOSSE article:

The interface is “very uneasy and
noisy.” We are working on that. Unfortunately, because of time we had
to cut some features and other important usability items were tossed
left and right. I do apologize for that. However, we have been able to
put out something which I hope is better than nothing and we plan on
adding new features/fixing bugs on short schedules. If you find
something or what to comment post it to a blog and then ozmoze the page
into the Ozmozr group. I will read your ideas. At some point we’ll get
better comment functionality up as well so you don’t have to post to a
blog.

Another feature that will likely be added to Ozmozr in the future is a recommender
system of some kind. This would be a way to have people recommended to
you who have similar interests but who aren’t in your existing network.
Of course this would work for content recommendations as well. So there
is plenty to look forward to with Ozmozr. Feel free to set up an account
and try it out. Justin and his group are definitely interested in
feedback. And if you do blog about it, be sure to ozmoze it as well.
That’ll definitely get their attention 😉

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