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March 12, 2012, 6 p.m.

Exposé is a bookmarklet that lets your friends be the editors

News.me wants to reveal the conversations happening about stories on news sites.

What if your friends laid out the home pages of major news organizations, instead of a bunch of editors you’ve never met?

The folks at News.me toyed with that idea at an afternoon hackathon a few months ago, and the result is News.me Exposé, a bookmarklet that reveals the “top stories” as determined by what your friends are sharing on Twitter.

A wee bookmarklet it may be, but Exposé reflects the company’s belief that our friends can be better curators than professional journalists — and that home pages are losing relevance as discovery points.

The News.me bookmarklet

“The web is about conversations, not pages — this brings the conversation front and center,” said Jake Levine, the News.me general manager, in an email.

“Why do we spend so much time thinking about discovery on publisher homepages when users are finding their news elsewhere? Why do we divide content into categories and sub-categories? Is it for the benefit of the user or the advertiser? There’s a lot of grey area here that bears exploration; layers upon layers of old and irrelevant assumptions to break down.”

He continued: “Destinations are not irrelevant, but they might be less important than they once were. We don’t get to decide anymore how and in what order users will consume content — and they’re using that content in ways that we never expected. People are coming in through the side door, and engaging with pages as a means to an end: participation. It’s really interesting to see what happens when we then tie those conversations back to the level of the publisher.

“On the one hand, you could argue that this tool is a challenge to editorial authority, but I’d argue to the contrary: that we’re pulling an already fragmented content experience together — into a whole that looks different, but respects the value of editorial judgement and personality.”

News.me Exposé could work well as a widget embedded into a news site. Think of it like a personalized “Most Emailed” or “Recommended For You” list. A next step, I suggested to Levine, might be to dynamically redesign a news home page with stories shared by your friends. (It’s doable, with a lot of JavaScript trickery.) Levine said he’ll consider it for the next iteration. “We built this in an afternoon hackathon, so consider it a toe in the water,” he said.

POSTED     March 12, 2012, 6 p.m.
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