USAtoday has launched (in beta) a “personalised news site”
which is, as Jonathan Dube points out, basically
an RSS reader that doesn’t require the user to know anything about RSS. This is reminiscent of the Guardian calling its RSS "webfeeds" so as to avoid scaring non-geeks, and comes back to one of my favourite truisms about the popular adoption of technology, that technology can be considered mainstream only once it becomes functionally invisible to the end user.
Oddly, USAtoday's new site doesn't really achieve that. It does a nice job of bundling together all sorts of RSS feeds from around the web and categorising them for the user, but the search function is obstructively non-intuitive, especially for a user coming to RSS for the first time. Adding your own feeds by entering feed URLs, which is currently the only option, is not the best way for novices to learn about the potential of this new newsgathering experience. This is a big step down from...oh, let's say the Google reader, to take an example at random of an RSS reader that has invisibly cracked the interface and search issues that the USAtoday product doesn't begin to address.
The one really interesting feature of this whole exercise? Contextual search ads from Kanoodle, not from AdWords. See here.