Can You Digg It?
App for That
In the winter of 2004, soon after the husks of once-great dot-com startups had dried and shriveled, a 27-year-old college dropout named Kevin Rose deployed a barebones new site, simply named “Digg.”
It was one of the first social networks in existence. Back then, the term “social networking” hadn’t shouldered its way into our lexicon yet. Facebook was a nascent, walled platform for college gossip; Google was still idly toying with its search algorithm; Twitter wouldn’t launch for another two years.
News itself was a hierarchical affair, largely produced and disseminated by trusted broadcasters and editors. Journalism’s democratizing forces hadn’t congealed, yet; bloggers weren’t sitting front row at fashion shows or making a living off of Google Ads. The idea that a community of Internet geeks could manipulate the news cycle would’ve elicited howls of mocking laughter from the Conde kingmakers.
The Medium is The Message
News.me, part of the Betaworks family of social web startups, just released a free iPhone app version of its news curation and discovery service and, due in part to the C train’s snail-like crawl from Brooklyn to Manhattan, we’re pretty psyched to test it out. The startup, which was born as a prototype in the New York Times Research and Development Lab, aims to solve the “too much stuff” problem when it comes to finding news you actually care about.
To pull the right articles from the social media deluge, News.me’s iPhone app analyzes the links shared by your friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook to determine what’s relevant to you, using some metadata from Bit.ly (another Betaworks company) to help figure that out.
News.me already has a pared-down email product (of the top five links a day) and an iPad app that launched last April, albeit without the Facebook connection. But as general manager Jake Levine told us yesterday, the iPhone app is where things get social. The clean interface displays a nicely-formatted photo, headline, and, immediately below that, what your friends have said about the article, including their tweets and Facebook status updates as well as reactions on News.Me.
In a certain way, the web is a terrible medium for trying to read articles. Your browser is full of distractions like Twitter and email that need constant attention. Which might be why users of News.me, the betaworks service created in conjunction with the New York Times, read an average of six times more articles on their tablets than they do when browsing News.me via the web.
“The experience on the tablet is more immersive, more contextual,” said Jake Levine, general manager at News.me. “When the iPad first came out everyone was complaining about how you couldn’t multitask, but I think more and more publishers and app creators are coming to see this as an advantage.”
Social Network Neutrality
So what does this have to do with social networks like Facebook or Twitter?
Distributors, owners of “the pipes,” will always have an incentive to maximize profit by way of price discrimination, or, if they choose to produce their own content, to prioritize their own goods ahead of or instead Read More