Report: Facebook Working on a Flipboard-Like News Reader

Facebook-flipboard-reader
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Aiming to engage more mobile users, Facebook is working on a Flipboard-like news reader, according to a report.

Facebook has been developing the project for more than a year, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cites "people with knowledge of the project." The report comes after Tom Waddington, a web developer for the blog Cut + Keep, wrote that he spotted Facebook code for RSS feeds, with each showing multiple entries and a list of subscribers. Waddington's report came about a week before Facebook's announcement that it was adding video to Instagram. However, many speculated that the announcement was actually going to be about the introduction of an RSS reader, especially since Google is planning to retire its Reader by July 1. Read more...

More about Facebook, Advertising, Google Reader, Flipboard, and Business

Google Revamps Its Currents Mobile Newsreader App To Make It Smarter And More Scannable

unnamed

Google just launched an update to Google Currents, the company’s Flipboard competitor, that makes it easier to scan through categories and editions from Google publisher partners like The Guardian and Forbes in the app. In addition, Google says it brought some of its search technology to the app to power its breaking news sections.

Google says “millions of readers” have downloaded the app since it launched internationally in April, and Currents now features more than 700 publisher editions and “tens of thousands of self-produced editions.”

According to Google, the goal behind the new version was to “make it even easier to scan through all your favorite categories and specific editions with just the swipe of a finger.” To do so, the app now groups editions into categories instead of just giving you a list of sites you subscribe to (think categories, such as lifestyle, business, science and tech, and sports).

The app still emphasizes individual publishers and doesn’t feature a river-of-news kind of view — with the exception of the Breaking News category that’s now available for every category — but this new approach makes the app significantly more fun to use.

The app now also features a tweaked design that’s more like the Google+ app, with stories that are set into boxes that smoothly slide onto the screen as you scroll down.

The other interesting update in this new version is the fact that Google now uses “some of the technology behind Search” to power the breaking news sections in the app. Google isn’t talking about the technical details behind this, but the company notes that “breaking stories are customized to your country and language—so we’ll only show you relevant news.”

The earliest versions of Currents were, to be honest, a bit of a letdown given the competition the company faces from beautiful mobile apps like Flipboard and smart services like Zite. Now, however, Currents actually looks very good and is yet another testament to the fact that Google is slowly learning how to do good design.

The new app is now available for Android and should be out for iOS in the near future, too.


Flipboard Officially Launches On Android, Adds Google+, YouTube And More Localized Versions

Flipboard_Android

It’s been a big week for Flipboard’s Google-related announcements. On Tuesday, the company revealed Google+ integration was coming to its social magazine, and today, the app is officially launching on all Android devices, including the Kindle Fire and the Nook. The Google+ integration, as well as newly added YouTube integration, is arriving today as well.

The app will be available in Google Play, the Amazon Appstore for Android, the Nook Store, and in Samsung Apps.

The Android public launch comes barely a month after Flipboard debuted its official Android beta and limited Android rollout as a preloaded app on the just-released Samsung Galaxy S III. However, it’s been just a little longer since Flipboard’s unofficial launch, thanks to the hacked version of the Android APK file from that same device.

Demand for the Android version of the app has been “astonishing,” says Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, who tells us that they saw over half a million downloads during its beta. “We’ve had really good coverage across a wide range of phones. We feel really good about how it’s coming together,” he says. “But people have been asking, why is this in beta? Why can’t you just release it now?”

The answer, of course, is because it’s an Android app, and that means there’s a bit more work involved. “With iOS, you can target a very specific screen size, a very specific processor and so on – it’s quite a bit easier,” McCue explains. “On Android, to really build a high-quality application that works across a range of devices, you have to spend a lot of time optimizing…that’s why we did the beta.” The new Android version works on all the major Android smartphones as well as the Nook and Kindle Fire, and supports from small screens up to a 7-inch display. It has also had some other performance and layout optimizations since the beta release.

YouTube Launch & More Localized Versions

Another new feature arriving on both iOS and Android today is YouTube integration. You can watch, favorite, bookmark and comment on videos within Flipboard, and those changes sync with the YouTube website itself. You can also follow users and the channels you subscribe to.

And Flipboard is also once again expanding to more countries. It was previously available in localized versions in China, Japan and France, but it’s now arriving in Korea, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Germany. “When we deploy to each country, we not only localize the app for each of these difference languages, but more importantly, we focus our energy on the curation point-of-view in each country to pick the best content. We’ve now gotten more efficient at doing that,” says McCue. Next up on the list for localization are parts of Latin America, as well as other countries in Asia and Europe.

Checking In On Flipboard’s Business

While the company is still declining to reveal hard numbers related to total downloads or revenue, McCue says that the move to smartphones has seen users engaging with the app throughout the day, instead of just at morning and night (8-11 PM, primarily) as on iPad. The Cover Stories feature, which launched first on smartphones and is now available via Android widget, is now the number one feed on Flipboard. He also says that Flipboard sees “very, very, very strong return-to-app metrics.”

“A lot of people are choosing us every single day, multiple times per day. This is very encouraging for us especially since we don’t do a lot with sending emails out to users, and we don’t do lots of noisy notifications,” says McCue. However, integrating push notifications is something the team is thinking about for the future, but they want to do it right when the time comes.

He also reports good progress on the advertising side of the business, which now has half a dozen publishers running ads on the platform, out of a total of 2,000 publications which have been integrated to date. Some recent advertisements have been for Converse, Nieman Marcus (the same ads as in Vogue, says McCue), and the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman.” That last one did particularly well, with a 3.5% CTR. It directed users not to a website, but a rather to an in-app page featuring the “Snow White and the Huntsman” Twitter feed in Flipboard’s signature magazine style, which users could then subscribe to in the app. However, all Flipboard’s CTRs are “much higher than anything you’d see on the web,” says McCue.

As for what’s next, beyond its continued international expansion, one glaring omission for a magazine so focused on attractive, visual layout of content is Pinterest integration. Pinterest rival The Fancy’s integration was complete six months ago but has yet to ship, so the holdup is clearly on Pinterest’s side of things. But Flipboard is hardly the only third party in desperate need of a Pinterest API. (Where is that thing already?) No official word on what networks may be added next, but Pinterest will surely make a big splash when and if it ever arrives.

The new Android and iOS versions of Flipboard are available for download here.


Google Takes Its Flipboard Competitor Currents Global

google currents logo

Last December, Google launched Currents, its attempt at challenging popular mobile apps like Flipboard and Zite. Since then, the company has added about 400 new publishers and over 14,000 self-published editions to its lineup . Until now, though, Currents, which runs on Android and iOS, was only available in the United States. That’s changing today, as Google is taking Currents global. Local publishers can now start adding their content to the app and U.S. publishers can now turn on a translation feature to make their texts available in any of the 44 languages that are supported by Google Translate.

Among the international publishers who are already using Google Currents are The Guardian in the UK, LaStampa in Italy, Financial Times Deutschland in Germany, ABC News in Australia, Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Switzerland and Hindustan Times in India.

The translation feature, though, is what Google really wants to highlight in this release. Given that it’s based on Google Translate, those translations can be a bit rough at time, though they are generally good enough to get the general gist of an article.

This new version of Currents also sports a new “dynamic sync feature,” which ensures that articles are downloaded immediately when you open the app without having to press the sync button. Currents’ users can now also download select editions for offline reading.


Announcing The 2011 Crunchies Finalists And Tickets On Sale Now

Crunchie Award photo by Susan Hobbs

The nominations have been tabulated and the votes are in. Over 300,000 nominations were calculated across 20 categories. Along with our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, we are very proud to announce the finalists for 2011′s best in technology. Voting begins now.

For 2011, we’ve added some new categories. Best Location App, Best Cloud Services and Biggest Social Impact join the Crunchies ranks this year. You’ll also find Best Social App, the NYC-dominated category of Best Shopping App, Best New Startup and the year’s best VC’s and Angel Investors. Newcomers like TaskRabbit’s Leah Busque and Keith Rabois for his angel investments (Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yammer, Path, YouTube) made the list of finalists, as well as industry favorites such as Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus and Ron Conway.

There are some pretty good match-ups this year. Google+ is up against Facebook Timeline for Best Social App, along with the New New Twitter, Instagram, and Path 2.0). The Kindle Fire is competing with the iPad 2 for Best New Device. And Pinterest, Turntable.fm, Nest, Fab, and Codecademy are all vying for Best New Startup (even though two of those were complete pivots). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is up for Angel of the Year. His seed investment in Zynga is worth 160 times what he paid for it. But AngelList founders Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi are also finalists in the category for helping to democratize angel investing, along with Conway, Rabois, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, and Kevin Rose (who has a killer portfolio that includes Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and Square). Who will win?

Everyone is eligible and encouraged to vote. The rules state that you may vote once per day, per award category, until voting closes on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. There are 20 award categories open for voting, recognizing the top accomplishments across a variety of fields and roles. If you are one of the finalists, create a badge and get your community excited about this honor and get them to vote for you. Winners will be announced on January 31, live at the Crunchies.

In addition to today’s announcement of the Finalists, we are happy to release our next batch of tickets through Eventbrite. The release begins now, so act fast and get them while you can.

Here are your Finalists:

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (AngelList)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codecademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

5th Annual Crunchies Awards
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne@techcrunch.com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.


Announcing The 2011 Crunchies Finalists And Tickets On Sale Now

Crunchie Award photo by Susan Hobbs

The nominations have been tabulated and the votes are in. Over 300,000 nominations were calculated across 20 categories. Along with our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, we are very proud to announce the finalists for 2011′s best in technology. Voting begins now.

For 2011, we’ve added some new categories. Best Location App, Best Cloud Services and Biggest Social Impact join the Crunchies ranks this year. You’ll also find Best Social App, the NYC-dominated category of Best Shopping App, Best New Startup and the year’s best VC’s and Angel Investors. Newcomers like TaskRabbit’s Leah Busque and Keith Rabois for his angel investments (Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yammer, Path, YouTube) made the list of finalists, as well as industry favorites such as Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus and Ron Conway.

There are some pretty good match-ups this year. Google+ is up against Facebook Timeline for Best Social App, along with the New New Twitter, Instagram, and Path 2.0). The Kindle Fire is competing with the iPad 2 for Best New Device. And Pinterest, Turntable.fm, Nest, Fab, and Codecademy are all vying for Best New Startup (even though two of those were complete pivots). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is up for Angel of the Year. His seed investment in Zynga is worth 160 times what he paid for it. But AngelList founders Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi are also finalists in the category for helping to democratize angel investing, along with Conway, Rabois, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, and Kevin Rose (who has a killer portfolio that includes Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and Square). Who will win?

Everyone is eligible and encouraged to vote. The rules state that you may vote once per day, per award category, until voting closes on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. There are 20 award categories open for voting, recognizing the top accomplishments across a variety of fields and roles. If you are one of the finalists, create a badge and get your community excited about this honor and get them to vote for you. Winners will be announced on January 31, live at the Crunchies.

In addition to today’s announcement of the Finalists, we are happy to release our next batch of tickets through Eventbrite. The release begins now, so act fast and get them while you can.

Here are your Finalists:

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (AngelList)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codecademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

5th Annual Crunchies Awards
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne@techcrunch.com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.


Ashton Kutcher To Edit Online-Only Bonus Issue of Details Magazine [REPORT]


In addition to acting, investing in various apps and heading up a philanthropic foundation, Ashton Kutcher is also reportedly getting into magazine publishing. The actor will be gracing the cover of the September issue of Details magazine, as well as creating an online-only bonus edition.

Industry sources inform us that the magazine’s September issue will include an online-only companion that can be accessed via Facebook and Flipboard (which Kutcher invested in). The issue is free, and will include content curated by Ashton Kutcher — apps, entertainment, styling products and so on.

Although the social issue seems an intriguing idea, Details has yet to launch a magazine iPad app, which seems a more natural venue for such an edition. The first iPad issue is slated to be released this fall.

More About: ashton kutcher, details, facebook, Flipboard, magazines

For more Media coverage:

The Real Reason Mike McCue Needs $50 Million: Google Is Building A Flipboard Killer

When news came out the other day that Flipboard just raised another $50 million at a $200 million valuation for its iPad news reading app, I gave CEO Mike McCue a hard time on Twitter and here on TechCrunch. Does an iPad app startup really need $50 million, or is this yet another sign of a bubble? McCue responded on Twitter, but yesterday we spoke by phone and he went into great detail about why exactly he thinks he needs $50 million.

He came up with the number a few months ago. It’s what he calculates he needs to get to cashflow positive, or at least pretty close (more on that below). Raising money is distraction, and his preference was to raise it all at once.

But towards the end of our conversation, he also mentioned another concern which was a factor in taking as much money as he can right now. “I see a lot of competition down the pike,” he says. Rumors have been reaching him that there is a team of engineers at Google who are “saying they are building a Flipboard killer.” He adds quickly, ” I have no idea what it is,” but hearing about “this desire to kill us” is unsettling and it does add “a little concern about the unknown.”

Could this product have anything to do with the magazine-like Google Fast Flip? It is kind of clunky now, but something like that could be developed into a slick, HTML5 browser-based flip interface for news reading on tablets. Or maybe it’s a completely different project—an app for Android tablets. Or maybe it’s nothing.

Setting aside the need to fend off both real and potential competitors flooding into the market, McCue has his own internal logic for why he raised so much money. “We want to build a large business here that has the ability to get into the billions of dollars in revenue,” he says. And to get there he needs to reach tens of millions of consumers and sign up 100 to 150 publishers from 17 today.

I asked him if he plans on building his own ad salesforce, and at this point that is not the plan. He wants to keep partnering with publishers and let them sell their own ads. wants to hire engineers, and bring his employee count up from 32 to 50 or 60. At about $200,000 per employee (including salaries, benefits and other expenses), plus the network costs to support as many as 40 million Flipboard readers, his operating costs could easily get to $20 million a year. Here is what McCue told me in his own words:

—————–
Q&A

Q: Why do you need $50 million?

McCue: We want to build a large business here that has the ability to get into the billions of dollars in revenue. What is the revenue model? You could charge for the app, charge for subscriptions, or you could do advertising.

We decided the only way you could get to a multi-billion dollar business is through advertising. So given that, to build an advertising business, you’ve got to have a lot of scale. You’ve got to build a consumer brand, acquire tens of millions of users, and work with a lot of publishers to get there. You have to be international, and on multiple platforms. It is a big undertaking.

Q: What does the $50 million get you?

McCue: The next milestone is to be cashflow positive. I feel like I can get to cashflow positive with about 50 to 60 people. So our plan is to hire another 18 to 28 people, we have 32 now, then hover there and build out an advertising business with publishers. The bulk of those people will be engineers. Publishers will sell their own ads. . . . Assuming we can build an audience with a really good product, then we need about 100 to 150 publishing partners to build a really big business. We have 17 now.

Q: Flipboard is the No. 2 free iPad app right now. Can anyone else catch you?

McCue: I see a lot of competition down the pike. There’s talk that some people at Google are saying they are building a Flipboard killer, and I’ve heard those rumors. What I felt was a better approach was to build the best product no matter what the competition does. But this desire to kill us—a bunch of folks there have decided to build this product, I have no idea what it is—raises a little concern about the unknown. Anytime a company like that [might go after you], it certainly is the kind of thing I give a lot of thought to.

Update: Another source says he too has heard about the Flipboard Killer project at Google. From what he can gather, it is a team of less than ten Googlers from the Boston/Cambridge area. Publishers who have seen demos like it so far, but its future is uncertain in the product reorg going on right now at Google. In other words the Flipboard Killer might itself get killed before it ever sees the light of day.


The Age Of Relevance

relevance

Editor’s note: This is a guest post submitted by Mahendra Palsule, who has worked as an Editor at Techmeme since 2009. Apart from curating tech news, he likes analyzing trends in startups and the social web. He is based in Pune, India, and you can follow him on Twitter.

What’s the Next Big Thing after social networking?

This has been a favorite topic of much speculation among tech enthusiasts for many years. I think we are already witnessing a paradigm shift – a move away from simple social sharing towards personalized, relevant content.

The key element of the next big thing is the increasing significance of the Interest Graph to complement the Social Graph. While Facebook, Twitter, and Google are already working on delivering relevant content, a slew of startups are focusing exclusively on it.

Relevance is the only solution to the problem of information overload.

The above matrix is a representation of how the process of online information discovery has evolved over time.

Phase I: The Search Dominated Web

This is how Google began its dominance over the web two decades ago, using PageRank to surface the most popular web pages as identified by other web pages that linked to them.

Phase II: Web 2.0 With Social Bookmarking

In the Web 2.0 era, social bookmarking services gained significant traction, surfacing popular content. Sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon are hugely popular even today, driving millions of page views.

Phase III: Personalized Recommendations

Services like Hunch, GetGlue, etc. have focused on building an Interest Graph for users, to deliver personalized recommendations using a ‘taste engine’.

Phase IV: Personalized Serendipity

The latest crop of startups is focusing on personalization using a combination of Interest and Social Graphs. Personalized Serendipity is what Jeff Jarvis calls ‘Unexpected Relevance’. Examples include Gravity, my6sense, Genieo, and TrapIt.

What Exactly Is Relevance?

The battle against information overload is sometimes presented as a choice between Relevance and Popularity, where ‘relevant’ is equated to ‘personalized’ as against popular.

However, Relevance does not always mean Personalized. Relevance is very dynamic – it depends on the needs of a person at a specific point in time. There are times when users want to know about the most popular stories, and other times when they seek personalized content.

There are multiple approaches to filtering information for Relevant Content. Google, Paper.li, and PostRank are examples of algorithmic filtering, while Reddit, Hacker News use a crowdsourcing approach. Klout can be used to filter Twitter streams by influence, while Facebook uses social affinity as a filter for its newsfeed and social signals for its new Comments Plugin. Location is another high-impact signal for delivering relevant content, gaining importance in a mobile world.

In other words, Relevance spans across all the quadrants of the Discovery Matrix above, and none of the above approaches to filtering for relevance is the ‘best approach’. There is no killer approach to Relevance. Henry Nothhaft, Jr., CMO of TrapIt, described it as “the myth of the sweet spot”. The competitive edge will be with services that support multiple discovery methods, multiple filtering approaches, have flexibility, and support multiple mobile platforms.

Quora: A Showcase Of The Interest Graph

Quora has pioneered the use of the Interest Graph as a dominant signal for its newsfeed. Quora asks new users to select Topics to follow, as part of its onboarding process, which is the first revelation that Topics are as important as Users to follow.

Quora’s newsfeed is an interesting showcase of what happens when you mix an Interest Graph with a Social Graph – and the result is the mysterious addictiveness so many have experienced, but found difficult to explain. An item pops up in your newsfeed not because you were following a user, but because you were following a related topic.

This often leads to Personalized Serendipity – or Unexpected Relevance – which is why Quora gets many people hooked.

The war over the Interest Graph began between Twitter and Facebook last year, as Erick described so eloquently. So how did Quora beat them to this game?

For starters, Quora is built from the ground-up with the Interest Graph being a backbone of the framework. Twitter’s ‘Browse Interests’ is too broad and primitive to be of use, even at present. And while Facebook has a mechanism for allowing publishers to push new items to your feed, most publishers have been unaware of this functionality.

This is also the reason why Facebook’s Like Button now publishes a full news feed story. The future clearly belongs to who best captures the Interest Graph as Max Levchin and Bill Gurley put it.

The implications of a Relevance-driven web are wide-ranging and broad in scope. Better utilization of the Interest Graph by services will lead to better ad targeting, and a potential decrease in reliance on CPM/CPC-based advertising. Monetization focus will be on higher yields through transactions and subscriptions as Dave McClure once described. Online media publishers will focus on Relevance Metrics revealing engagement and time-spent on site, than primitive metrics like page views and traffic.

Social media may lose its obsession with follower numbers and traffic, evolving to context-driven reputation systems and algorithms.

Interest Graphs will be used to build Better Social Graphs. Today’s monolithic Interest Graph will get further specialized into Taste Graphs, Financial Graphs, Local Network Graphs, etc., yielding higher relevance for different needs.

The Age of Relevance beckons!


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