AOL Launches Beta RSS Aggregator

America Online unveiled on Thursday a beta version of My AOL, a personalized homepage feature of its newly launched AOL.com portal that enables users to choose content they wish to view using RSS feeds. AOL has partnered with Feedster, an RSS search engine, to provide searching and feed subscribing.

As previously reported by BetaNews, My AOL begins as a "blank slate" that can be populated with content from RSS feeds in an attempt to bring order to "the chaos of the Web."

Unlike other RSS aggregators that rely on experienced users, however, My AOL is topic driven. Users can initially select "RSS samplers" that contain a number of different content sources.

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Feedster currently scours over 11 million RSS feeds and hundreds of millions of XML documents, boasting the largest RSS index. The technology will allow My AOL users to select favorite Web sites they wish to include on the site without knowing specific RSS information.

Other features of My AOL include the ability to search the Web by topic for additional RSS feeds of interest, and a "Top Feeds" section that displays select news and blogs from across the Web.

"By enabling consumers to create their own personal home page on AOL.com to manage all of their sources of online information in one central location, My AOL provides a convenient solution for a usually time-consuming ritual: visiting multiple Web sites and blogs multiple times each day to catch up on news," said Kerry Parkins, Director of Audience Products at AOL.

Microsoft has dabbled in building its own RSS aggregator for MSN at Start.com, but the service never got out of the experimental phase.

In the fall, AOL Instant Messenger presence will be layered into My AOL so that users can share RSS content and other interests, making those connections in what AOL refers to as a "community-like" atmosphere.

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