Yahoo has started to roll out summaries produced by Summly in its mobile app for IOS. We aren’t impressed. Granted we are biased, we have strong ties to Stremor, the makers of TLDRStuff.com, which is an alternative to Summly. 8 guys in the desert should be no match for the great and powerful SRI International, the creators of SIRI and the real brains behind Summly’s tech. We expected Stremor to get crushed. We knew what we expected to see when a 20 year history of language processing and hundreds of millions of dollars of research went up against a few guys without degrees in English, Linguistics, or MBA’s. We expected it to be brutal. In that, we were right, but in this case David beat Goliath.
We compiled a few screenshots of the summarized feeds from Yahoo and placed the same links through the TLDR Plugin. Here are the results side by side, so you can make your own assessment.
The images below are screen shots of both Yahoo/Summly on the left (with pretty colors) and TLDRstuff.com on the right.
The Summly version doesn’t tell you who is saying that the Steelers are grooming Landry, nor does it tell you anything about Roethlisberger.
The Summly version doesn’t give you anything more than a description of what Pandora is. If you don’t already know what Pandora is, this article probably wasn’t interesting to you. And, dealing with the general public, you can never assume anything.
This one is interesting because both technologies created the same summary. My guess is because of the long sentences. The summary is made up of only two sentences total.
TLDR has random text toward the end of the summary – see the “Please follow” bit. This is related to following The Wire on twitter and facebook. While this shouldn’t be in the TLDR summary, I still prefer the summarization over the Summly version.
Summly has random text in the middle of the summary – see the “Also read” bit. It appears Summly is dependent on Readability and doesn’t have that quite perfected.
You can run your own experiment by installing the TLDR Plugin or TLDR Reader App from http://www.tldrstuff.com.
Since Stremor makes its API for summarization available for other developers to build apps on, it seems like Yahoo should have just paid for the API. $30M would have bought a lot of summaries and of higher quality.