Friday, April 22, 2011 news aggregation app uses Twitter to find content for users; app a hit-or-miss news experience

My wife is a huge fan of the television series Bones. In fact, every early evening the series is on in reruns on TNT so we "watch" the old episodes at dinner time – not necessarily paying attention because, after all, we've seen them before.
One episode involves the Jeffersonian team going to an Asian restaurant where Booth, the FBI character, tells the members of the team to let the owner order their food for them – 'it will better that way'. One character orders their own food and as a result gets sick to his stomach. Only when he returns to the restaurant and lets the owner choose his food does he feel better.

Are you the kind of person who would let someone you don't know choose your food for you? If so, you might think the new app is great. If not, you'll be left wondering what the big deal is and why the hell would the NYT invest money in this thing.

The premise of the app is simple enough: upon opening the app you are required to sign into Twitter. The home screen then shows you in the upper left hand corner, along with some of the Twitter folk you might be following, as well as other media partners.

The concept is that you will be interested in what stories other people are linking to, what others are interested in.

The problem, at least for me, is that while I may be interested in what one person has to say about their field of expertise, I may not be interested in what their other interests. For instance, I might tweet that the Giants won yesterday (actually, they had the day off). Great, except you might be following me on Twitter for news about New Media, my obsession with the Giants is just something that comes with the package, you are a Yankees fan, or hate baseball completely, or live in Amsterdam only care about Ajax.

So for me the possibility that I will run across an interesting article is too hit-or-miss.

But as I try to avoid predictions I won't guess whether this app has a chance of being a success. If you like are one of those people who likes to be told what to think, say a Fox News fan, this app might appeal to you – just turn off your brain and let the stories come to you. But if you are someone who knows what they like, and doesn't have time to sift through the stories others are reading in hopes of finding something of interest you probably would prefer an app like Flipboard where you feel in total control of the content.

One reason I didn't write about yesterday was that by the time I got around to downloading the app I noticed that several articles had already appeared online. Fine, I thought, no reason for me to pile on.

But last night, leisurely reading some of them, I realized that in some cases the author had not even opened the app themselves. My gut told me that the author doesn't even own an iPad – yet here they are writing about an iPad app.

Whenever I wonder whether it is time to close up shop and move on to another web launch these incidents bring me back to TNM.


Tablazines said...

"If you like are one of those people who likes to be told what to think, say a Fox News fan, this app might appeal to you"...

Love the conservative jab. Lol. You should have stated if you WANT TO PAY to be told what to think.

I don't see what the big deal is and will probably never open this app again... even if it was free.

Huge Bones fan here to btw

BostonB said...

Don't you sense that these news apps like this one or Flipboard are designed for readers that don't really have any loyalty to their local newspaper or to any magazine?

As for design, this one doesn't work as well as Flipboard. If you ask me.