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The Secret To Yahoo's Latest News App: One Teenager's Old School Approach

Mar 7 2014, 11:03pm CST | by

News has traditionally been told by a voice of authority, hence why so many people instinctively believed Thursday’s Newsweek’s story claiming to unmask the founder of Bitcoin . Of course when that...

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20 weeks ago

The Secret To Yahoo's Latest News App: One Teenager's Old School Approach

Mar 7 2014, 11:03pm CST | by

News has traditionally been told by a voice of authority, hence why so many people instinctively believed Thursday’s Newsweek’s story claiming to unmask the founder of Bitcoin . Of course when that authority lacks a strong foundation of facts, it’s vulnerable to being ripped apart by the Internetprecisely what has happened to the 81-year-old Newsweek in the last 24 hours.

Enter a new kind of authority in telling the news, one focused not so much on scoops and truth, but the limited ability of the human brain to process information. Yahoo’s recently-launched News Digest app puts a decisive limit on the endless glut of news on the Internet.

That’s the grand idea of Nick D’Aloisio, anyway. He’s the 18-year-old entrepreneur who sold his summarization app to Yahoo in April 2013 for $30 million — most of it cash which went straight into a trust fund. Since then he’s taken his anti-data-glut approach further by revamping Summly and turning it into Digest.

The service, he says, differs from other mobile news services like Circa, Inside and Flipboard, by giving users a list of what they ought to know and nothing more. There’s no personalization, no limitless stream of other stories they could read. Just a list of around a dozen stories and you’re done.

The app sends users a new digest twice a day, and rewards them with a nifty little animation when they’ve read through the list.

“We want it to be very antithetical to other news apps in the landscape. This idea of formalism and the rigidity of having a twice day digest,” says D’Aloisio. “That’s very calming to me. It’s consistent.”

The app is all about simplicity: a layout with bold colors and straight lines, a flat design and typography inspired by the 1960s modernist era and iOS 7, according to D’Aloisio.

Stories are boldly formulaic. D’Aloisio refers to building blocks, or “atoms” of information that are cobbled together to tell a story. One “atom” is the text, while another is a section from Wikipedia that puts a story in historic context. Another are Tweets related to the story.

D’Aloisio originally created Summly after becoming frustrated with studying for a history exam, and finding there was simply too much information to read. The home-made software he dreamed up was based purely on genetic algorithms, and led to a nifty but somewhat clunky app that automatically summarized news stories as bullet points.

Now he’s learned he needs humans too. Yahoo won’t say how many from its news team are working on the Digest app, which D’Aloisio launched to some fanfare at CES last month, but given the handful of stories it puts out each day it’s probably not many.

Yahoo can also credit D’Aloisio’s schoolwork for once again inspiring the technology he’s coming up with. The teen, who is sometimes up till 2 a.m. taking conference calls with his Yahoo bosses on the West Coast, has spent the last year studying math and further math at A-level, a standard qualification for British high school students.

“In doing that work I was thinking about breaking down news in a computational manner, where you can separate the discreet elements of a news story,” he says. Hence those atoms.

Both D’Aloisio and Yahoo won’t say how many people have been actively using Digest, but he’ll continue to tweak the service in between his studies. “It does mean a lot of traveling and stuff,” he says, but adds gamely: “It’s very complementary to the stuff I’m doing with A-level. When I’m bored with A-levels I go to Yahoo, and when I’m bored with Yahoo I go to A-levels.”

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was tol ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Splendour In the Grass 2014 - Byron Bay
KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by r ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Federal Aviation Administration Bans All US Flights To Israel
KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Dat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

INDIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-TRADE
PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last month. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Government Weekly Cabinet Meeting
KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 mill ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Iskandar Johor Open - Previews
JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involvi ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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