New site Fingertips creates free bespoke news services for its users. The site can combine story feeds from different news sites according to your particular taste and need for certain kinds of news.
Fingertips.net claims that it “lets you create your own personalised newspaper from the publications you want.”
The personalised newspaper approach has the obvious advantage over printed papers in that you can get articles from a range of different publications and that you can cut out the sports section or whatever bit you usually chuck in recycling as soon as you open the paper.
Fingertips compares itself to Netvibes so we decided to stack the two web services up against each other.
Fingertips’ big claim is that it’s simple: “So many personalised news sites are unnecessarily complicated and don’t have the everyday web user in mind. We really wanted to change that and appeal to a wider audience whatever their interest.” says Ian Hambleton, founder of Fingertips.
After signing up to Fingertips, they provide you with a default newspaper which you can then edit by changing the pages, categories and publishers. In the newspaper, drag and drop the categories to move them around on the pages and click through the news from the active publishers.
Through an extensive tick box menu, you choose what kind of news you want – news stories about Africa, entertainment stories about the X-factor, etc. Clicking on a headline on your news page takes you to the site the article’s from: Time Out for example. You can add feeds from different places, but currently the bias is towards the established news sources.
– quite straightforward to choose what you want
– drag and drop page editing is good
– poor design, not very clean
– not as specific as google news… if you are interested in something like the oil industry in Georgia, it won’t funnel that information for you in the same way and encourages you to mix it up with stories about TV
– bias towards conventional media
A much more complicated interface, Netvibes is a personalized startpage more than a personalised newspaper. It contains a news stream alongside a lot of other elements like your multiple email accounts, a facebook feed, a Flickr widget showing the site’s recent most interesting photos and a multitude of other widgets you can customise your page with.
– makes more use of the content available on the net, there’s a lot more than the Times online
– a real net hub
Takes over your net experience – would you ever leave this page?
Not a thing of beauty
If you’re happy getting your email in one place and your weather updates in another, there’s no need for the vast web dashboard with many widgets that netvibes provides. Fingertips is actually quite different from netvibes – just doing the newspaper part and it is indeed simpler, though the slightly ugly interface and bias towards conventional news sources and news categories means that I won’t be abandoning google reader for it yet. Most interesting recent photos on Flickr is I think more of an interesting category than picture galleries from the BBC.
Fingertips offers a passive lean-back experience, which feels strange on the internet where I personally am used to being a lot more active and searching out stories that interest me.
I can see that there aren’t many simple personalised newspapers on offer but – do we actually want one? I’m not 100% sold on the concept.
Related: Could Plastic Logic spell the end for newspapers?