Serendeputy - your personal news assistant.

Welcome to Serendeputy!

Serendeputy is your personal news assistant.

Your deputy:
- learns what you like and don't like,
- lovingly compiles a list of news and blogs for you.

You can help your deputy learn by searching, clicking links and pressing the little smiley faces.
How it works.

What to do:
  1. Click links to teach your deputy
  2. Click smileys and frownies
  3. Find favorite topics and sources
  4. See how much better your deputy is getting at finding you good stuff.
  5. Sign in for free to save your profile, or please tell me why you won't.
Serendeputy FAQ

What is Serendeputy?

Serendeputy is your personal news assistant. Your deputy watches what you do and learns what you like. Then, it tries to make your life a little better by putting together lists of articles it thinks you'll like.

Who is behind Serendeputy?

Jason Butler. Read more on the About Serendeputy page.

Where are you based?

Boston, Massachusetts, USA. More on the Contact Serendeputy page.

How does Serendeputy work?

A librarian application reads all the news and categorizes it. Your deputy pulls together a list of articles for you based on what you like. More on the How it Works page.

How do you generate the lists?

Your deputy looks at what you've read and liked before. It then analyzes all the articles from the last couple of days to put together your list for you. The math is a little complex, but that's the basic idea.

Do I have to register?

No. I want you to see how well it can work for you before I ask you for any information. I create a deputy for you as soon as you visit this site, and I stash its information in a cookie on your machine. As long as you use that browser, your profile is intact. If you want to be able to use your profile on multiple machines and make sure it's saved, then you can register and I'll stash that information for you.

What data do you stash?

Registration only asks for an email address and a password so that I can save your profile. I don't ask for any other information from you.

Do you plan on charging for Serendeputy?

Not for the core version. I have a "Serendeputy Plus" on my whiteboard, but that will incorporate more advanced information-management tools.

Do you accept advertising?

Yes, but I'm being careful on how I do this. I want to make sure that the advertising is just as relevant as the content your deputy is giving you. So, I'm working on ways to deliver personalized advertising that's not creepy. Or ugly. More on the Advertise on Serendeputy page.

Are you selling my information to advertisers?

No. Advertisers buy space against concepts (like Boston Red Sox), not against people (like Jason Butler). It's double-blind. I don't sell your information to advertisers.

How do I rate a story I've already read?

I stash your 25 most-recently-clicked articles at the bottom of every page. You can click the smiley/frowney buttons to rate them.

How do the smiley faces work?

They give extra "points" to the related topics and sources. So, if I'm on the Boston Red Sox page and I click the smiley in the headline, I'll get more Red Sox articles in the future. If I click the frowney, I'll get fewer. If I click the smiley on a specific article, I'll distribute the "points" over the source and the topics associated with that article.

What does the clock icon do?

This "snoozes" the topic, making them disappear for an hour. Say I love the Red Sox (not a stretch), and I've read a few articles this morning about the game. I'm a little Red Sox'ed out. I can click the snooze button and they'll all go away for an hour so that I can check out different topics.

What does the X do?

The "X" button gets rid of things. If you "X" an article, it goes away. If you "X" a topic or source, it gets rid of all the existing articles in that topic or by that source. The system learns a bit from your X'ing articles, so it's good to "X" the articles you're not really interested in.

Do my searches impact my profile?

Not yet. If you search for a topic I already have in the system, then it will work as you expect. But, I don't have every topic in the system (yet), so, for the ones I don't have, I pass you through to a Yahoo! News search. I don't have this hooked into the personalization engine yet, but I hope to soon.

Do you have a daily email alert?

Not yet, but it's on the list.

Something looks mis-categorized, can you fix it?

Yikes. I'm continually improving this, but sometimes weird things get through, especially on topics that have both literal and rhetorical meanings (like cruise: I want it to be just about boat trips, but it sometimes picks up teams that are "cruising to victory"). If I see any articles that are miscategorized, please send a note to librarian at serendeputy, and I'll make sure that I improve the system to prevent that same mistake from happening again.

How do the items in the favorites bar work?

These are some of your top-rated topics and sources. I only show items in this bar if they contain items you haven't seen yet.

How do you generate the My Most Popular lists?

These are your highest-rated topics and sources that have items you haven't seen yet. If you've already read everything from one particular source, then I'll take it out of these lists. I don't want to taunt you with links that have nothing useful on the other end.

How do I find more topics and sources

There is a link to the list of all the topics and sources at the top of every page, next to the search box.

Can I suggest a topic or source?

Of course! Please send a note to librarian at serendeputy.

Are you going to organize the topics and sources?

Yes. Right now, they are all in one big list. I'm building out a taxonomy right now that will make it a little easier to navigate. I'm building in the personalization elements to this at the same time, so it will actually make your deputy a little smarter as well. I hope to launch this real soon now.

How long do you keep articles in the system?

Three days, more or less. I originally had it at seven days, but that left too many stale articles in the system. One day caused me to miss too many interesting articles. Three seems like the happy medium.

Who's the baby?

That's my daughter Lucy. In the original mockups, I put the picture in there as a placeholder for an advertisement. Then, I decided I liked the picture better, and thought it would be cool if I made it so that people could put their own favorite picture there. I end up changing the picture on my profile every couple of days -- wouldn't want Sadie to get jealous.