News.me is a personalized social news reading application for the Apple’s iPad with backing from more than 20 major media companies.
News.me uses feedback from bit.ly, the URL shortener, and from micro-blogging website Twitter to assess and share popular content. It’s an app that lets you browse, discover and read articles that other people are seeing in their Twitter streams.
These streams are filtered and ranked using algorithms developed by the Bit.ly team to extract a measure of social relevance from the billions of clicks and shares in the bitly data set. Use of the app costs $0.99 a week or $34.99 a year and there is an initial free week-long trial for the service.
Prototyped by engineers at the New York Times, bought and built out by Betaworks, a company that specialises in real-time web programmes, with data and interface rock-stars from Bit.ly and contracted friends, the app is a substantially new type of news consumption experience.
“This is fundamentally a different kind of social news experience. I haven’t seen or used anything quiet like it before,” John Borthwick, the founder and CEO of Bitly and Betaworks, wrote in a blogpost at Borthwick.com
“Rather than me reading what you tweet, I read the stream that you have selected to read – your inbound stream. It’s almost as if I’m leaning over your shoulder – reading what you read, or looking at your book shelves: it allows me to understand how the people I follow construct their world.”
The News.me’s iPad app licenses content from a range of big publishers, including The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, Mashable, Associated Press, AOL News, Gizmodo and others, who receive a fixed fee for each unique page view.
News.me, which is not supported by advertising, however marks a fresh business model in that users are financially supporting the sites that they read through licensing agreements between News.me and media outlets.
Borthwick believes that advertising-supported content is not suitable for the tablet experience and argues that a new business model is required. “We have no interest in taking ads in any form,” says John Borthwick. He adds that more than 660 publishing partners are already participating, including TheBlogIsMine.com.
“On News.me you can read your filtered stream and also those of people you follow on Twitter who use News.me. When you sign into the iPad app it will give you a list of people you are already following,” Borthwick said.
“Additionally, we are launching with a group of recommended streams. This is a selection of people whose ‘reading lists’ are particularly interesting. From Maria Popova (a.k.a. brainpicker), to Nicholas Kristof and Steven Johnson, from Arianna Huffington to Clay Shirky,” he added.
He continued: “If you are curious to see what they are reading, if you want to see the world through their eyes, News.me is for you. Many people curate their Twitter experience to reflect their own unique set of interests. News.me offers a window into their curated view of the world, filtered for realtime social relevance via the bit-rank algorithm.”
“The second thing we strove to accomplish was to make News.me into a beautiful and beautifully simple reading experience. Whether you are browsing the stream, snacking on an item or you have clicked to read a full article, News.me seeks to offer the best possible reading experience.”
Earlier this week the Washington Post launched a Trove, a similar aggregator service based on social media preferences, while other apps, such as Flipboard and Zite, aim to achieve a similar result. [News.Me via The Telegraph (UK), BorthWick and Read Write Web]