Well, it’s been in planning for a while, and OneIndia has finally pulled the covers off One.in, a news aggregator build on the lines of the Drudge Report, providing a single page access to news content from external news sources. (Hat Tip: @centerofright) Headlines and images at One.in are linked to external news publications, including The Hindu, DNA, NDTV, TimesOfIndia, HindustanTimes, MSN News, Asian Age, Sify, among others. While the Drudge Report has a conservative outlook, OneIndia founder BG Mahesh told MediaNama that there is no such plan – The headlines at One.in, though, are tongue-in-cheek. One asks a question I’ve sometimes wondered about: “Pitroda Sir, how do you find time to be on so many boards?

One.in went live two days ago, and OneIndia founder BG Mahesh says he is still tinkering with the site, and didn’t expect it to be written about just yet; “the structure will be crystallized more over the next few weeks, and the focus will keep changing, based on what is hot on a particular day. At team will be set up to do the editorial selection, and the plan is to update it every couple of hours.”

Aggregators: Algorithm Based & Human Intervention

Now aggregators aren’t new to India – Rajesh Jain, the founder of Netcore (which acquired OneIndia last year), has launched Samachar.com many years ago, and for a non-resident Indian audience before the turn of the century, it was the primary online resource for news. Samachar.com is now owned by Sify.com. Jain has been  keen on launching One.in in a construct similar to the Drudge report, with human selection of content.

Most aggregators use crawlers to select news from select sources, to create what is sometimes called a “river of news”, which is then sorted for display. Without human selection, news displayed in the way Google News does. Techmeme, for example, has its river of news here. One.in has its news sources at Narada.oneindia.in. This is all quite easy to set up – you can do it using an RSS feed and and something like an Aggregator wordpress theme, which we’re using for this site.

While collecting news headlines is easy online, what matters when it comes to aggregation and discovery, is clearly editorial curation. This is why Techmeme is infinitely better than the Google News tech section.

One.in and Photographs

What we noted with One.in, is that it is hotlinking photographs from the news websites: this means that photographs are being served to One.in from the servers of the original publishers, and even though they link back to the main news article, the same way headlines link back to the articles, this could be seen as republishing content. We’ve raised this issue with what Web18’s Connect.in.com has been doing with content, where the site creates galleries of images from external sources to get traffic from search results, offering only a link back to the original source below the image. An argument might be that the sites send traffic to the original publisher, but this is a gray area when it comes to the question of copyright violation, because the content is served from the original publisher.