A similar news filter—a platform that culls the Web so readers don’t have to—is Evening Edition, billed as “the perfect commute-sized way to catch up on the day’s news after a long day at work.” It offers a few heavily linked recaps of world news on its once-daily update, though it’s a “what you see is what you get” setup, whereas Cir.ca will let people select stories to follow.
Related services offer opt-in filters like Cir.ca’s but with a social media element. News.me and Paper.li both compile daily collections of links. News.me crawls users’ Facebook and Twitter connections, pulling out stories with overlapping shares, essentially saving users from having to navigate their own overwhelming social media feeds. Paper.li also pulls from social, but not just accounts connected to a user, to create a daily page of links on a chosen topic. And Storyful combs social media to find newsworthy conversation.
Another new filtering platform is Medium, whose beta version launched in August. The brains behind the project include Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. But the venture isn’t microblogging—rather, it’s more like a professionalization of Blogger, which Williams helped launch back in 1999. Anyone can use Medium to self-publish content, creating topics that contain stories. Those stories are ordered by reader popularity or newness. The topics can be open to user contributions—creating more of a forum or discussion feel—or not, meaning collections can also act as straight-up purveyors of information, still displayed based on what appeals to readers. “Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer,” the founders wrote in the site’s introductory note. “We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. Together, the contributions of many add up to create compelling and useful experiences. You may be inspired to post one time or several times a day—either way is okay.” Medium could be a tool that allows existing media companies to rejigger how they offer content, using collections to attach explainers to news updates.
Social media is much more than a filtering tool—it’s already the new news platform in the sense that many websites get the majority of their clicks referred from sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. At a Future of Media panel held at NYU in May, both Buzzfeed co-founder Jonah Peretti and Jezebel editor in chief Jessica Coen said that Facebook is their biggest traffic source. “I’ve really started to think less about ‘what are people going to search for,’” Coen said, “and more about what can I assign here that I know people feel strongly about.” Now folks like Cory Booker (yes, that Cory Booker) are creating platforms based on the share without worrying about that former pillar of traffic, search engine optimization. The Newark mayor, Nate Richardson (ex-Gilt City), and Sarah Ross (formerly of TechCrunch and Yahoo) are building #waywire, a social video network aimed at young adults slated to launch this fall. “#waywire is constructed to function like a personalized wire service,” Ross said, including a mix of original, in-house content; videos from media partners; and user-generated contributions. Each video will be presented alongside five related videos to help build context into the experience. “We’ve created a system where the video is more easily shared,” said Ross. “You can automatically syndicate that into one of many social networks.”
Other interesting and relatively new sharing tools include Storify, which helps users create narratives by collecting other social-media snippets, like tweets, and CNN iReport, which includes user-generated content in story coverage.