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Boxxet, a Tool for Automatic Webpage Generation 109

tkajstura writes "New Scientist is reporting on 'a new tool [called Boxxet that] offers to create websites on any subject, allowing web surfers to sit back, relax and watch a virtual space automatically fill up with relevant news stories, blog posts, maps and photos.' It uses an algorithm based on unique word count to filter an index and integrate relevant subject information into the page, called a 'Boxxet.' The tool will first be available by invitation only, opening to the general public by the end of April 2006."
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Boxxet, a Tool for Automatic Webpage Generation

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  • Great (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Data Link Layer ( 743774 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:54PM (#14878861)
    Now that we are finally rid of geocities pages some new shit service comes along.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:56PM (#14878879) Homepage
    So you say you wanna be a blogger, but you're just too darn lazy? No problem!
    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:58PM (#14878893) Homepage Journal
      So you say you wanna be a blogger, but you're just too darn lazy? No problem!

      Tired of other people's inane blather earning micro dollars while all you do is bore you co-workers? Boxxit might just be for you!

    • My friend is paying me to do her website on astrology. This might save me from having to read all that heinous shite.

      I've been reading books for days and I still think a "house" is a building.
      • you are doing it wrong. she should provide the content in plain text, you paste it into templates, etc. and do the formatting. She may not be able to do the desing, etc. but she can do the grunt work of creating the actual content.
      • My friend is paying me to do her website on astrology. This might save me from having to read all that heinous shite....
        Don't forget to do the daily predictions. Just spurt out a few random lines like, Today is [not] a good day to make new friends and You will [not] be able to rely on your luck today, for each of the 12 signs.

      • The stars say that this project is going to come in overbudget!
      • I have plenty of clients that do that. I usually ask them if they could at least provide me with the topics they would like to cover. Then I take the topic list and start looking for freelance writers on eLance [elance.com]. They can usually whip out a decent amount of copy for $100 - $200 dollars. I then add 20% - 40% markup and bill the client.

        If you are too lazy or too ignorant to understand why you need to give your developer the copy, you end up paying someone else to do it.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This looks like one more giant leap toward underwhelming mediocrity on the internet. Why generate your own content when someone else will do it for you? Why verify a story when it can just take up space on your website? How lame...

      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:18PM (#14879040) Homepage Journal
        To be fair, the article wasn't clear on whether this was a matter of generating websites or personal portals. The latter is a lot less fluffy, and could be a useful way to organize the information you want to absorb every day.

        So the question is, has anyone tried Boxxet? If so, can you provide more details?
        • When it is not clear, you are free to assume the worse. Whatever you assume about it, blame the ambiguous market speak of Boxxet...
        • "...users can sit back, relax and watch a virtual space automatically fill up with relevant advertising." I think they forgot a very key word there.

          To be more fair, I would hope it would mimic the personalized google page, with other useful features added. I can't imagine how they can actually place useful content on the 'virtual space' without scraping it from other websites, which is not going to fly very long in the internet community. FGoogle's already catching some heat for it with their news feature

    • [-(friend^2)]^(1/2)

      *Sigh*. You know, when you start laughing out loud at mathematical formulas, some sort of line has been crossed. The Line of Ultimate Geekiness, perhaps. I must reluctantly admit to being on the wrong side of that line.
    • So you say you wanna be a blogger, but you're just too darn lazy? No problem!

      If a blogger posts and nobody reads it, did they really blog?
  • by busman ( 136696 ) * on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:57PM (#14878882)
    explains slashdot articles!

    Hope the got that dupe bug fixed
  • So.... I'm a cool person, how do I go about getting invited? Anyone in /. have enough sway to hook a geeker up.
  • by parasonic ( 699907 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:58PM (#14878891)
    I'd be interested to hear from users how well this thing works. Is it powerful enough to be useful? If so, cool!

    Any experiences here?
  • Hurry! (Score:4, Funny)

    by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:59PM (#14878903)
    Subscribers can see the random crap early!
  • Example result? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NitroWolf ( 72977 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:59PM (#14878905)
    Does anyone have an example page that is a result of this alogrithm? The article is a little sparse on details or functionality, and you can't see anything if you go to the website.

    From what I've read, I've tried to come up with stuff that I'd put in the first 5 links to give to the site, and I'm having trouble. I don't necessarily like to view the same things or same types of things from day to day, so I'm not sure how useful that'd be...
  • by zubernerd ( 518077 ) * on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:00PM (#14878913)
    I can just see this program being used to "create" content to push more advertising. Just what we need more of, websites that have recycled content put online for ad revenue.
  • Google? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoninIN ( 115418 ) <don.middendorf@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:01PM (#14878923) Homepage
    Isn't that what a search engine does? You type in a phrase and it finds things like that and sends you a web page?
    • Re:Google? (Score:3, Funny)

      by dR.fuZZo ( 187666 )
      This is completely different. It rearranges search results in a pretty manner and it takes so long that you have to wait for the page to load. Completely different!
    • Actually, I'll tell it that I want my web page to have content relevant to "Google" and then I can just watch my Google competitor fill up.
    • Come to that, there's a Linux screensaver by the name of "WebCollage" which flips random words out of /usr/share/dict at Google image search, then arranges the results on the screen. The results are a bit of a random mish-mosh, with the entertainment factor coming from the way a porn picture *always* pops in there, no matter what it searched for.

      Anyway, I could think of a shell script calling curl or lynx that could do this, but watch them lord it out as the Next Great Thing to those who don't know better

  • That's right... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:01PM (#14878924)
    ...I only read the best webpages generated by algorithms which suggest what I might find interesting...
  • by CitznFish ( 222446 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:04PM (#14878952) Homepage Journal
    and a nightmare for search engines. Hopefully there will be a way to detect boxxet pages and purge them, or at least show them seperately from relative content. Going from a search result link to another link full of partial information will be frustrating for many users and only benefits those who are makign aliving off of google ads, affiliates, etc.
  • by nganju ( 821034 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:06PM (#14878965)

    How long until someone (i.e. everyone) figures out how to fool the algorithm and exploit the system so that their blog posts show up every single day on the front page of the "Boxxet"? Unique word count has got to be the most naive algorithm out there. Remember in the nineties when every web page had a list of three thousand keywords at the very bottom of the page to fool the search engines of the time?
  • by PretzelWagon ( 770175 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:16PM (#14879026)
    KBBL Boss: This is the DJ 3000. It plays CDs automatically, and it has three distinct varieties of inane chatter.

    [presses a button]

    DJ 3000: Hey, hey. How about that weather out there?
    Woah! _That_ was the caller from hell.
    Well, hot dog! We have a weiner.
    Bill: Man, that thing's great!
    Marty: _Don't_ praise the machine!
    KBBL Boss: If you don't get that kid an elephant by tomorrow, the DJ 3000 gets your job.

    [Marty punches it]

    DJ 3000: Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.
    Bill: [laughs] How does it keep up with the news like that?
  • by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `hcstarkc'> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:18PM (#14879042)
    Boxxet will create the page for me, and then /. will read it for me. I don't need to get online at all!
  • Just great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BertieBaggio ( 944287 ) * <bob@mCHICAGOanics.eu minus city> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:18PM (#14879045) Homepage

    This kind of tool might be nice for those people that are to lazy to either blog themselves or do some honest-to-god surfing, but can you really see publishers being thrilled that their content is going to be diluted and published on some Joe Q Random's Boxxet page?

    Now, some bloggers and others might be happy to be republished verbatim outwith their control. That's fine. But most professional webmasters have a name for bots that go around taking content and putting it on other sites without permission*. The are called scrapers . The Boxxet bot and others like it are and will be banned by many webmasters (including myself) because the potential for abuse is too high.

    There is also a name for such sites automatically produced by scrapers -- made for AdSense

    * Note: There is no problem with sites that take headlines, write a summary/teaser and link back (like a certain site we are all very familiar with). These sites are doing a Good Thing(TM) for the content creators -- sending them an interested [ie targeted] audience. The problem for both the publishers and the search engines is the scraping. Only time will tell whether Boxxet is one of the troublemakers (cause the article and the site sure don't give many clues).

  • by andy314159pi ( 787550 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:18PM (#14879046) Journal
    As the volume of recycled content goes up, the noise ratio will eventually be too much for anything too put up with. That's why I'm working on an automated web surfer so that this the recycled content can find some readership.
  • I only hope... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Audacious ( 611811 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:26PM (#14879098) Homepage
    I only hope that they took into consideration hackers trying to break into websites. I've been getting lately:

    Drupal: Someone trying to see if I am running Drupal.
    Mambo: Someone trying to see if I am running Mambo.
    phpmyadmin: Same as above.
    xmlrpc.php: Used (or it used to be used) by both Drupal and Mambo.
    index.php and index2.php: Used by both Drupal and Mambo.
    cmd.gif: Four different sites configured to help hackers deface your site.

    and lots of others. So my input would be to run a test site annonymously as Boxxet and see if the hackers can breach the site before releasing it for people to use. Otherwise - it looks like it might be a nice kind of program to use.

    PS to whoever is running Slashdot: The "Sections" area is doing some strange things and gave me an error once about SectionPrefs(???).
    • stick SELinux on your machine. It won't make you invincible, but it will sure cut down on the seriousness of any web based intrusion (in my experience at least).
      • Already gone through and renamed some files, restricted the rights to others, and changed Apache from root to nobody with no privileges other than the standard user type privileges, etc... It is amazing - even with all of the presets everyone puts into their Linux distributions now; there are still a lot of things you have to do in order to ensure your computer is safe now-a-days. :-) I guess hackers are just very inventive people. :-)
  • by rubberbando ( 784342 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:26PM (#14879105)
    Its the same bull that you get when you type in a domain name in your browser to see if its taken and find a cybersquatted site with search engine material on it to appear that the page actually has some original content.

    I also see this sort of thing everytime I do a search on a search engine like Google or Yahoo. I will get a result with the descriptor blurb appearing to have info that I am looking for. When I click on the link, I get sent to some cybersquatted 3rd party search results page that is full of ads that have my search term (which the ads usually aren't relevant to) highlighted in their descriptions.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:35PM (#14879151) Homepage
    Just what we needed, a way for search engine "optimizers" to generate giant automated link farms. Even with manual blogging, there's an annoying tendency for blogs to link to blogs, and, eventually, to spam-type press releases. You know, stuff like this: We'd like to give a high five to our research team. Our portfolio is up 70% so far in 2006 and looking stronger every day! We hope our members have been keeping up with these incredible picks. Let's take a look at this next winner. (From a real spam.)

    Now we'll have thousands of phony "news sources" like that, all linking to each other.

    So now each search engine will have to develop an automated tool to find and ignore this dreck.

  • Word Count (Score:4, Funny)

    by PhYrE2k2 ( 806396 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:36PM (#14879160)
    PORN porn porn XXX xxx xxx TITTIES titties tittes NAKED naked naked SLUTS sluts sluts

    Wow- this workd count filter rocks!
  • Of course! (Score:4, Funny)

    by BumpyCarrot ( 775949 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:39PM (#14879177)
    1. Automatically create awesome webpage.
    2. Add Adwords.
    3. ?
    4. Profit!
    • Thats the first thing I thought of when I read about boxxet.
    • Re:Of course! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hyfe ( 641811 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @07:02PM (#14879325)
      Urg, how many times have you read that meme? .. and you still didn't get the gist of it?!

      The point is to supply two premises which does does not lead the conclusion 4, and leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure 3.. you know, as a horrible, horrible business plan.

      In your point however, premise 1 and premise 2 certainly leads to conclusion 4, leaving step 3 totally f*cking uneccesary.. and as a plan it thus actually makes sense (although it may or may not be doable, but that's for the feasibility analysis to discover :))

    • Adwords = YOU PAYING for advertising. Great idea. Yeah, Profit!! (for Google)
      Adsense = YOU GETTING PAID for advertising (clicks). Sounds like a better idea.
  • by Zadaz ( 950521 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:39PM (#14879182)
    Taking something like

    news.google.com -> Personalize -> Save Page as...

    Except automated?

    I guess sometimes the simple ideas are the best one.

    Except when they're just dumb.
  • Copyright issues? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zubinjdalal ( 816389 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:40PM (#14879187)
    It would be interesting to see how much information Boxxet pulls off other sites and how it represents this as useful information without broaching copyrights.
  • Dissociated Press (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The algorithm sounds like Dissociated Press [catb.org] to me.
  • by Expert Determination ( 950523 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @06:59PM (#14879292)
    Do you like this comment generated by my automatic slashdot comment generator? Do you like this comment? Viagra only 4.00 from here. Do you like this automatically generated comment. It can be filled up with any kind of content, hairy lobsters, automatic content. Do you like my automatic content generation. Bugs to smooth out. Beta version. Automatic slashdot comment generation. Only 4.00 with viagra. Well do you? Please come again.
  • Gathering content for you to puruse based on a string text... isn't that what Google does? better? Sheesh, and with Google I'm stuck searching for same crap day in and day out. Everyday can be completely new crap.
  • Sorry, but I just don't get the usefullness of this. I see the cool factor, but now how someone would put it to good use. Can someone suggest examples?
    • Re:Sorry . . .why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spacepimp ( 664856 )
      Have you ever searched through google to find a website, for an answer to an obscure technical question, or for any search for that matter, only to come across a bogus hacked together site selling adspace along the margins. I have noticed this occurring with increasing regularity. what this achieves is automating that process so some human doesnt have to cob together an uttelry useless webasite to sell his adspace along themargins, now he can automate that process, and make more websites that will waqste yo
  • by youmon ( 959893 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @07:42PM (#14879534)
    Sorry I haven't jumped in earlier but here goes.

    The New Scientist article didn't describe it as well as I would have liked. Think about a place like Slashdot, which is a great destination for tech information. We think that there ought to be similar places for many other subjects, whether it is a sports team, school, hobby, etc.

    The problem with trying to support many subjects is that most subjects cannot produce a community as active as Slashdot. So Boxxet is trying to using automation to augment the user submissions and preferences.

    Who knows, this thing may be totally not useful, but we're going to give it a shot.

    We expect to open up invitations starting next week. We did not expect to get on Slashdot so our queue is higher than expected.

    We will try not to disappoint.

    You Mon Tsang
    • That was a helpful clarification, and I appreciate it. (Can't speak for anyone else, but I imagine others did to.)

      What I think would be helpful is if you, either just replying to me here or on the main Boxxet page, provided some examples. Something like "Typing in '[some words]' might get you a page like THIS(LINK)' THat would give readers a better idea of what to expect, so we're not just talking out of our ass.

      Not that Slashdot isn't a good place for talking out of your ass. *grin*
  • by isomeme ( 177414 ) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @07:43PM (#14879540) Homepage Journal
    Now if we can just develop some sort of automated tool that obsessively scans a list of webpages for updates, leaving inane comments when it encounters a new piece of content, we can all finally leave behind the drudgery of the web and enjoy more free time.
  • Just wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:28PM (#14879761)
    ... until people start maintaining blogs based on 'boxxet' news stories....

    this should be an interesting infinite loop.

  • I haven't RTFA but do they mention how they do it? Is it just a simple RSS aggregator with a few thousand feeds and then it filters the results? Something like that can be done in a day.

    Another blood sucking RSS utility written by me: cribot.com [cribot.com] (cut it some slack, this was done in a day or two.

  • by triso ( 67491 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:57PM (#14879896) Homepage
    So, I guess the real question is, Is Boxxet based on a good search engine? If not, I can see Grandma setting one up to gather topics related to caning and getting entries like Naughty Linda likes to have her big bottom turned red with a hairbrush. Do you want to help? If that doesn't induce a heart attack I'll eat a bug.

    • What, there's another meaning for caning?
    • So, I guess the real question is, Is Boxxet based on a good search engine? If not, I can see Grandma setting one up to gather topics related to caning and getting entries like Naughty Linda likes to have her big bottom turned red with a hairbrush. Do you want to help? If that doesn't induce a heart attack I'll eat a bug.

      Grandma, using a bleeding-edge service like this? Not likely. Most people never bother changing the default search engine in IE from msn.com.

  • Apologies to Zonk (I'm just giving you a hard time) in advance.

    When will boxxet finally put Zonk out of a job? Surely /. could get better stories with an advanced computer program.

    *tongue in cheek*

  • ????? a tool for automatic wellfare generation.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas