Daylife went beta

I thought I'd add my perspective on Daylife's recent move from private alpha to public beta.

Daylife's a much-anticipated project, given its star-filled investor roster and its discreet-bordering-on-secretive launch early stages, so it was bound to get a throrough once-over when it de-cloaked, but after Mike "Techcrunch" Arrington deemed himself "underwhelmed" well, that raised the stakes a little.

It seems like a lot of the negative reviews stem from what I think is a misunderstanding of what people are really seeing when they look at Daylife. It's more than a simple news aggregator (like Google News, TechMeme, or Megite), and it's definitely not a news community (like Digg or, nor a hybrid (like Newsvine). Sure, on the surface it looks like some of those services, probably because the initial functionality you see is a very slick, capable news magazine that pulls stories from a number of online sources, but a few clicks will show you that Daylife goes much deeper.

Like Google News or TechMeme, Daylife clusters stories around a single event, giving you multiple perspectives on a topic. Where Daylife distinguishes itself is in pulling other relevant elements out of those same stories, and letting you drill-in or pivot on them. For example, say the G8 leaders meet in Paris to discuss debt relief for Africa, and Bono drops by to give them a little talk. Both Google News and Daylife will collect stories on this international event from across the web, but Daylife will also link you to news about the people involved (President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, or Bono, to name a few), the places featured (Paris, Africa, Europe, etc), and the organizations (the G8, IMF, or World Bank, let's say). Click on any of those links, and not only do you get the G8 summit angle on those people, places, and organizations, you also get to see any other recent news related to them.

All of these neat features highlight the really important thing about Daylife: they're building a database of news that tries to understand and map out the connections between the people, places, and organizations that get mentioned within the stories (and who knows what other news elements they're busily wiring together under the hood), and making that platform available for others to use. Daylife The Application—the thing you see when you dial the Daylife URL into your browser—is just one reference application built atop Daylife The Platform.

So, if there's no comments, voting, or RSS (for now), I'm not particularly concerned. As someone who's been using Daylife for a few months now, I think it's a great application, well-presented. As an eager reader of the news, I'm excited to see all the information news sources create mined and processed to tease out the connections we all know to be there (and those connections, in turn, made available for others to do with as they see fit). As a friend of the company, I wish them luck.

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