The quest for the perfect news reader

Much has been written about the new Flipboard as a next-generation news reader, and while it is certainly beautiful, easy to use, and easy to customize, I’d like a bit more from my news reader.

Don’t get me wrong, I think aggregators like Flipboard offer a great way to read content from your social information streams. But is it the best way to get your news?

Or let me put it this way: are you doing yourself a disservice when you only read news that comes to your attention through your friends?

Who needs friends when…

On one hand, “friends” serve as a convenient filter for interesting content. I certainly enjoy seeing the links and likes shared via my follows and friends on Facebook and Twitter.

But I didn’t become friends with people because they were experts in my interest areas. Frankly my friends’ interests don’t necessarily overlap with my own,  and the cumulative interests of my friends doesn’t exactly cover all of my interests.

The ideal news reader:

  • would allow me to specify all my interests,
  • and then intelligently present me quality information in my interest areas,
  • with just enough transparency for me to choose what I wanted to read, and why.

It would also organize the information along multiple dimensions to give me paths to explore further, to discover new things, and to help me answer questions without forcing me to search in Google or Wikipedia.

I can’t get that kind of content or organization from just my friends and the people I follow.

At PARC, we’ve been thinking about the question, “What news should we read in a world where we are overloaded or can’t get what we need?” (okay, that’s not really the question form but you get my point) — and we’re working on some research projects related to this. One project that we’ve only recently made available in a web demo is Kiffets, which you can read more about here.

I’m not claiming it’s the perfect news reader (yet), but its focus on long tail news curation complements the news I get through my social networks.  Read more about how Kiffets helps you tune your news priorities to get what you need.

What are your requests for the perfect news reader?


 Editor: Sonal Chokshi

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