We have been working with Voxant over the last 6 months or so to move them over to a new infrastructure for their Web service TheNewsRoom. TheNewsRoom is a pretty cool service that allows you to find and embed 70+ news sources' news stories into your own Web site/blog and you get a cut of the ad revenue generated. They have LOTS of news sources too in video, text or image formats. The stories are streamed down in Flash.
TheNewsRoom has been resurrected in Ruby/Rails (of course) from is prior short and painful life in Java. Tom, Ryan and Dave have been working mostly on the Ruby/Rails stuff and I have been focusing on creating a very flexible media streaming framework in Flash/Actionscript for them. I would prefer the Ruby coding, but hacking Actionscript is where I am needed right now.
That is until about two weeks ago when Chad (our new CTO) and I decided that it would be cool to get TheNewsRoom to run inside of Facebook using their new app API. Chad and I did a quick weekend development effort and then showed the Voxant folks. They were quite thrilled to see their content streaming inside of a network of 30 million potential users (and growing). They gave me the go-ahead to develop the app in full and last Friday we launched it (and I got to build it in Ruby...and Rails...yeah!). After a weekend of waiting for the Facebook folks to approve the application its now in the directory. Since Facebook does not really have news outside of what your friends are up to, this is a pretty solid news app. Right now its focused on video news but we surface 13 different categories including Business, Entertainment, Health, Life and Leisure, Politics, Science and Tech, Sports, US, World, and a few others including "Odd" (which has some weird stories in it). When you watch a news story you can comment on it and your comment will post on your profile (so your friends will see it in their feed if they have TheNewsRoom installed). There is an additional category of just news items that you and your friends have commented on (News with Comments). Its simple to use and fun to watch and comment together on what's happening in the world. Give it a spin if you are on Facebook. If you are logged in, navigate to this URL: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=2406724706. Let me know what you think.
Update: It seems like if you have a Facebook app that you want to link to, you can just use this URL pattern: http://apps.facebook.com/thenewsroom and it will take you either to the app or let you install it. So, go install TheNewsRoom app!