We news addicts often want to read far more stories than we have time for. Especially for those of us who use Twitter, there are stories flying left and right, and getting lost in them is pretty easy. One possible solution is to read good summaries, which for some stories exist on myriad blogs. Even when they exist, that's hard to find. That's where Gistpoint and its Gistpoint API are trying to help, with user-generated and moderated summaries for many of the articles on the web.
Gistpoint describes the service as follows:
gistpoint deals with the information overload problem. Our goal is to let you search and submit high quality summaries for online articles. Reading a summary before you dive into the fulltext article helps you determine if the full content of an article fits your interests or is worth your time. To maintain high quality submissions and weed out spams, we use an algorithm to score how well a summary covers the information in the original text. The highest scoring summary will automatically rise to the top and become the default summary. When no human generated summary is available, we fallback on an extraction of the most relevant passage from the fulltext article.
The documentation, and in fact the API itself, is somewhat minimal. This isn't a bad thing. It is RESTful, with responses in JSON. At the moment, the API is only usable to access existing summaries. Hopefully, they'll add options in the API to submit summaries, in which case it could be the key API in a pretty cool news client, especially on a mobile device. A social news client based around this API for iOS and Android would be a great use for this.
Like most user generated content services, the userbase is a very important part of the success or failure. Gistpoint has instituted a points system as sort of a reputation system for summary submitters, but personally I'm not sure how useful that will be. However, if people do start submitting summaries, this could be a really good service, and make for really good mobile news apps.