The front page isn’t what it used to be

There was a time when reporters worked hard to write stories that editors chose to appear on the  front page of a newspaper. But the front page isn’t what it once was.

  1. For microbloggers getting most of their news from Twitter, the front page is wrapped in 140 characters (with links bringing them to the full story).
  2. For old friends who count on former classmates and colleagues for newsworthy links, the front page is a Facebook stream (with links bringing them to the full story).
  3. For the student using search engines to find information, the front page is the first page of search results is the front page (with links bringing them to the full story).
  4. For digital nomads who rely on alerts to deliver timely news, the front page is a short text message on a phone (with links bringing them to the full story).
  5. For people relaxing with their new tablet, the front page might be an app like Flipboard (with links bringing them to the full story).
  6. For news junkies living on the cloud, the front page might be a group of RSS feeds displayed by Google Reader (with links bringing them to the full story).
  7. For time shifters like me, the front page might be a list of headlines gathered througout the day and saved on Instapaper (with links bringing them to the full story).

With all of these ways that people get their news and information – not to mention my6sense, paper.li and umpteen other services – journalists have more opportunity than ever to appear on front pages. The best part is that these are front pages for very customized publications where people get only the news that they’ve either chosen to follow or actively sought.

Image by “whurley” via Flickr

If Paper.li married My6Sense

While I was thinking out loud about how Paper.li might look if it ranked news based on how I interacted with them, Tac Anderson suggested a marriage between My6Sense and Paper.li. To that, My6Sense’s Louis Gray replied that his company’s benefit would be “to be the Web’s personalization broker.”

Take a look at any Paper.li paper — my J Daily for example — and imagine if that page changed based on how you interacted with each item.

  • Stories written by a certain author could rank higher if you frequently read her posts.
  • Articles from a particular site could rank lower if you rarely clicked on those links.
  • Links shared by some friends could rank higher if you frequently clicked on them. They might be called “favorite” friends.
  • Links shared by friends of favorite friends could rank higher because of their association.
  • If you frequently retweeted links from specific friends, that friend’s links could rank higher.
  • Maybe pictures (but not blog posts) shared by one friend could be ranked higher because you often click on them.
  • The whole page could be ranked with consideration of my interactions with the My6Sense mobile app.

Note that I don’t actually know the details of My6Sense’s algorithm, so these are just my own crazy ideas.

My6Sense and Instapaper: Great for gathering news links

My6Sense is a mobile app that reads your sources (RSS feeds and social streams) and ranks items based on your actions. The theory is that the more you use the app, the more it learns about your interests, and the better it gets at surfacing the “stuff you want.”

One challenge for me is that I do work on both my phone and computer, and My6Sense doesn’t have a desktop or web app. Thankfully, they recently added the ability to link to an Instapaper account.

This is great for mobile newsgatherers and reporters. Let My6Sense find important items, and then “save” those items that you plan to review, link to or just read on your computer.

I downloaded the app, and modified its settings to link it to my Instapaper account, and it is now this easy for me to save links from my phone to use on any computer …

Here is my stream of content on the My6Sense Android app.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksablan/5342566223/

I clicked on the News Leadership 3.0 item.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksablan/5343175792/

Then I pressed the menu button.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksablan/5343175834/

Pressing the “save” button stored the item for later reading and sent it to my Instapaper account.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksablan/5342566459/

When I went to Instapaper.com, that item was right there at the top of my list.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksablan/5343175906/

If you have an Android phone, you can use this QR code to download My6Sense from the Market.

My6Sense QR Code