As has been reported, the improvements in the ranking algorithm put it closer to sharing TechMeme’s lunch, though I still find TechMeme slightly more readable. Still, Kevin’s done some great work and should be commended on his essentially solitary efforts banging out code at Coffee to the People.
Now, what hasn’t been reported on is something a bit more… shall we say… scandalous. It’s not really that bad, I guess, but does hover between genius and spyware.
Here’s how it works (it’s actually pretty simple so get ready for some geeky stuff…!):
Obviously this technique, coupled with an invisible AJAX script, could be a pretty potent tool for gathering information about what sites folks have visited (like banking sites, for example) if it automatically ran when the page first loaded (fortunately you have to click a button to start the script on Tailrank).
Personally I think this trick is pretty cool — and a very innovative way to gather information about someone’s reading habits based on their actual behavior (if they’re the only ones using the browser, of course). I don’t like, however, that Kevin hasn’t disclosed his methodology on the Import page considering that, as early as 2002, a similar technique was discussed as being a browser security hole and has since come up repeatedly.
In any case, this is probably the best use of this tactic I’ve seen and in less capable or more devious hands, could be a pretty dangerous trick.
Still, the rest of Kevin’s work is rather remarkable and worth a look — especially his tools page. As for the auto-importer, well, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether to use it.