Two new web applications were announced today -- Kinja and GMail. The first is live and the second is being privately beta-tested.

Kinja is "a weblog portal, collecting news and commentary from some of the best sites on the web." In otherwords, it will parse your favorite sites, blogs or not (theoretically) and give you a digested version. I signed up for a Kinja account to give it a shot. I think it's an interesting concept, even if it's something I probably wouldn't use regularly.

Iniitially, I'm not that impressed. I inputted a handful of sites into my personal digest and checked things out. One of the first sites I added was and, ironically, it omitted Jason's most recent post, which happened to be about Kinja. The post has now appeared, but when I added Wired it didn't show up at all. Maybe it takes a little while before it is parsed (Update: Nick Denton emailed to say they spider sites every 4 hours) or maybe I should enter the address of the RSS file. Either way, I found that disconcerting. If this technology is supposed to be for the people, I should be able to just enter the URL and have it work.

What I learned is that I like the concept, but I'm not sure if the technology is there to make this work well. Again, it's not for me as I have way too many blogs I'd want to read, but I can see the need for a service like this.

Update: I received an email from Nick Denton (and a comment from Jason) explaining that news sites aren't meant to work with Kinja. Good to know. I responded to Nick via email by saying:

I tried to add the front page of Wired. I knew this probably would not work as intended, but I wanted to take the perspective of a layman, which I'm guessing is the type of person you're hoping to grab. If I knew nothing of weblogs, I could see myself entering in and not knowing to look for an RSS feed. Also, when I put in that address I got a green light from the system, telling me it was added successfully. I would like to be informed if the address is not going to return any entries.

So I'm happy that everyone has been so helpful, but I would still like more feedback from the system if things don't go as expected.

In regards to GMail, it is Google's new email service. Apparently, you will get 1 gigabyte of space to store your email. I read somewhere that the service will only cost $2 per gigabyte, which Google will recoup through text ads placed in the email. It's scheduled to launch publicly in either a few weeks or a couple months.

I'll definitely sign up and GMail will be the first webmail service I've used in a couple years. I've never loved Hotmail or Yahoo Mail and I have a feeling that GMail will be easy to use. Also, you can't beat a gigabyte of storage space. I do wonder how they'll deal with people that use it as a file server though. If I just keep emailing stuff to my GMail account, I could just keep it there until I need it again. I can't imagine there's an effective way to limit the number of accounts you have either. Despite a few questions, I'm really excited about this.

I do find it odd that both of these were announced on April Fool's Day. I'm still not 100% convinced that GMail is happening, especially since there's no working demo. No matter what, it's fun to talk about.