thestar.com has added new online features from social bookmarking site Del.icio.us and its parent company, Yahoo!, to make it easy for users of those sites to tag and save thestar.com articles and add thestar.com RSS feeds to their customed My Yahoo! pages.
Readers will now see boxes on all articles inviting readers to "tag and save" the article to their del.icio.us accounts. When a reader clicks the link, a del.icio.us popup window prompts the reader to add keywords and a note about the page, and then adds the web address to the user's list of bookmarks in the del.icio.us database. Through the site's "social bookmarking" technology, the user can share his or her bookmarks with friends and other del.icio.us users can discover the article based on shared keyword tags.
Thestar.com has also extended its RSS feeds to include My Yahoo buttons, making it easy for My Yahoo users to add thestar.com headlines to their home pages. Thestar.com offers more than 30 RSS feeds its news, sports and entertainment headlines, blogs and podcasts, and all of these feeds can now be easily added to Yahoo's personalized home page service. (See our full range of RSS and My Yahoo feeds.)
The use of RSS (popularly parsed as "real simple syndication") feeds to distribute information on the Internet has broadened the ways that people are getting their news, and content providers, such as news sites, must make it easy for readers to take advantage of these channels or risk losing audience.
The major portal and search sites, such as Yahoo, MSN and Google, allow users to create personalized front pages that pull in headlines, classified listings, weather information and more using RSS; mobile devices, updated desktop news tickers and personalized newsletters do the same. As this kind of user-defined aggregation grows, more and more readers may come to content sites by clicking on a headline distributed by RSS rather than through the web site's home page.
Similarly, online bookmarking, community tagging and other concepts that allow people to share links and information around shared interests, or what are often called "communities of interest," offer another choice for readers over the traditional web site front page. With the explosion of these technologies and applications, there are more and more options -- some would say a dizzying array of options -- for Web surfers to choose from, and likely a shakeout and rationalization to come. The level of interest is these applications is highlighted by the current issue of Business 2.0, which offers a list "the next 25" Internet businesses to watch, many of which are related to social networks and tag-based technologies.
In the meantime, making these tools available to readers is part of the process that determines which ones are ultimately the most useful to readers, and to us.
And we can also say this with some certainty: there's lots more to come.