Zite – the best thing since Flipboard

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Future, iPad, Journalism, News, Technology
Tags: , , , , ,

News aggregators are becoming two-a-penny but I’m excited by the newest kid on the block, the Zite iPad mag that claims to get smarter as you use it.

I haven’t had lots of hands-on time but I’ve already found much to like and it holds out bags of promise.

Like Flipboard you can kickstart it with content from your social graph, in my case Twitter, and then access a Top Stories page with a more detailed section index down the right-hand side. For me this included Social media, Technology, iPhone, Journalism and Mobile.

It’s at story level where things start to get really interesting. Now the right-hand side becomes a personalisation column topped by a question: Did you enjoy reading this? And Yes/No buttons for the answer.  (The nomenclature may need adjusting; I don’t enjoy reading about the Holocaust but I do find it useful/valuable/insightful etc).

Below that there are options to get more articles from the site which originated the story, or more stories about elements within the text. In a feature on the future of social AR gaming for instance the metatags offered were Social Gaming, World of Warcraft, Virtual Reality and Dante’s Inferno.

For some this may be a descent into one of the circles of hell, ranking and rating is a chore but over time it’ll save time if you get a better, more relevant service.

The magic in the mix will be the delivery of stuff you didn’t know you were interested in – that you didn’t specifically ask for – which is a bit more difficult.

The brains behind Zite are researchers at British Columbia university’s computational intelligence lab and they’ve stitched together stats and semantics to try to crack that.

I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far and I’m already thinking this will supplant my use of paper.li and Flipboard.

It’s also likely to appeal to advertisers who are no longer entranced by overblown CPM metrics that drive the worst kind of click-whoring subject matter.

Now it’s about reaching the right eyeballs, not just any eyeballs, and a magazine that refreshes every half an hour and provides a tailored cut of content for every user will surely become a powerful new player.

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