Watchster made its official debut this week “after months of testing and refinement,” according to the site’s creator, John Brochu. It’s a headline news aggregation site with a twist: It features customization capabilities to let users select what they want to view.
Watchster offers links to content from leading Mac, PDA and tech news Web sites — more than 100 sites, all told. The Mac site list is the most elaborate, and is broken down into almost a dozen different content categories (“Headline News,” “Software Updates,” etc.) to be more manageable. Embedded links in the headlines bring readers straight to the news sites that Watchster tracks.
Originally called MacNewz, Watchster uses a combination of both RSS or XML-based tracking and manual parsing to gather its news content. As a result, Watchster claims to be able to track changes to other sites that other news aggregators can’t. Watchster is part of the SiteLink network, also comprising SiteLink and Rumor-Watch.
Using checkboxes in a left-hand column, visitors to the site can select or de-select content from individual sites that they want to read or ignore. The service, which updates every 15 minutes, also provides a pop-up menu to enable readers to view content from specific dates or time periods.