Don't have the time to read a long article on a web page? Then it might be worth to give the Great Summary service a try. The service extracts the most important sentences of a web page and provides them as a summary to the user.
It is pretty obvious that a computerized summary won't be as good as one from a human. It might still be worth a try if you lack the time or will to read a longish article. A good test text was the CNN article "Five ways to keep Alzheimer's away". The expectation for that article was to be presented with a list of the five ways that can keep Alzheimer's away.
It is up to the user to pick the amount of sentences that should be returned. It can range from 1 to 100. Trying to squeeze a long article in 1 or 2 sentences might fail more often that it would succeed. Selecting 5 or 10 sentences did not reveal the desired information of the Alzheimer article. It did list some of the recommendations but not all of them.
Even more disturbing was the inclusion of part of the footer links which clearly had nothing to do with the article. The problem here is obviously that the service is analyzing the whole page and not only the part that contains the article. Areas like the header, footer or menu should be exempt from the analysis to avoid the confusion.
A Firefox add-on is available for Great Summary as well. It adds an entry to the right-click menu which sends the page to Great Summary.
The service could be very interesting if the developers would improve the detection rate of the important parts of a web page further. They should also lay more emphasize on titles and lists because these usually contain important information.
Still: There is not much to lose here. If you are desperately needing a summary you might want to give Great Summary a try.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.