Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Personalized News? Microsoft takes a shot

Mcrosoft's Future Social Experience Labs have been quietly collaborating with Cambridge University on the development of what's been labeled a "personalized news stream."  Developed as an app for smartphones running Windows, Project Emporia reuses data and news from social networks.  The app relies on two Windows technologies (auto categorization and matchbox) and gets all of its news information from shared URLs on Twitter.  The service is said to be similar to the way marketers determine personal ad relevance in the personalization of ad delivery.

However, the journalist in me has to wonder about relying on Twitter for news feeds - while Twitter can be a quick and easy source for breaking news, it also transmits a lot of unsourced, unchecked, and possibly malicious information -- and you have to wonder whether Project Emporia has a filter to sort the wheat from the chaff among more than 1 million Tweets a day (and if it does, how it works).  Will Project Emporia become a personalized news feed, or a personalized gossip feed?

While I'm at it, Microsoft has also been working on another project (Montage) which lets users create Web pages from stories or news from friends and others, and can be used in support of crowdsourced news.

These projects contribute to the diffusion of mechanisms supporting the personalization of news and information, which can also be readily adapted for citizen journalism and highly targeted micro-news services.  And the fact that allow of the collection, editing, page creation, and distribution can be accomplished from a smartphone or tablet, further embraces the ideals of citizen journalism and the idea of hyperlocal, hyperfocused,.and/or crowdsourced news. 

It's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few years, and how it will change our notions of news and journalism.

Source: "Personalized News: Microsoft Digs Deeper Into Social", Online Media Daily

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