As a product review connoisseur myself, I immediately became interested in Summize when it first took wind. Summize is a trend-tracking, review-aggregating, verdict-visualizing product review portal of sorts, with the focus being on their unique information visualization methods.
Why I Like ItThe chaps behind Summize understand the blogosphere and Internet culture. As such, they're not trying to get people to write reviews on their site and become another venue you must scour to find great product reviews. Rather they want Summize to be the only place you visit when searching for reviews. They don't require that you alter the way you write reviews or install any blog plugins if you're a blogger. They just take what's already out there and filter out the noise. Well, at least that is the end goal. I don't think they're quite there yet.
Needs ImprovementSummize gets all of its information from the net, particularly Amazon reviews and the blogosphere. Once Summize has found a blog review of a certain product, it carries out natural language processing to approximate the tone of the review and give it a "sentiment" or visual rating of sorts. For Amazon reviews, the user-supplied star rating is just used.
The problem with this is that there is not yet anyway for Summize to rate the quality of the review other than just the language used. For example, what is the difference to the system between a splog post of a press release and a full-fledged blog review as you might read here? Through my experience, nothing yet. All types of blog reviews are unfortunately treated the same. I got in touch with Summize CEO Jay Virdy about this to which he replied with the following:
We are also actively working on improving our review classifier to more accurately identify full-fledged reviews versus plain mentions versus splogs versus paid reviews. Your detailed and helpful reviews are exactly the type of edge reviews we want to highlight on Summize.
I really like your idea about giving active and helpful bloggers control to moderate some of our pages. We actually have a voting mechanism in development, but we haven't fully worked out the details.
For the blog reviews that Summize doesn't automatically pick up on its own, registered users can add reviews manually. Here's a screenshot of when I added one of my own reviews:
You can see here how Summize went through the review and analyzed each of the words, comparing them to presumably a word bank sorted by tone/sentiment. Summize can then take an educated guess at the outcome of your review. However, it's not bulletproof. For example, in my Vudu box review I spent some time focusing on the negatives of the unit but overall I pretty much liked it. Summize classified that as "wretched". I'll check back with Summize in a few months and see where it's at but I've already found myself using it more and more.
When you're searching for a particular product review, where do you head first? Where would you head if all major search engines were down?