I'm definitely a big fan of getting curated news, whether it's from an editor or algorithm. It wasn't always that way, mind you. When Google News launched in 2002 as a way to boot out those holding the hallowed jobs of news placement and curate news based on secret-sauce algorithms, I poked fun at it for having a press release as one of its leading stories. Clearly, the kinks weren't worked out and I was happy to see that human editors weren't being threatened.
Fast forward, editors are still very much around, and the curation and personalization of news culled by a machine is very much the norm, and improving every day, with upstarts emerging with new solutions on how to deliver the most relevant news to your doorstep, or in the case of Curate.me, your inbox.
Curate.me is officially launching Tuesday, after being in private beta with 20,000 users for a few months. The service is part of XYDO, which helps corporations create automated emails of machine-curated content. Curate.me essentially sends an email to your inbox with a list of about 12 stories that are popular among your network of friends. You can also give Curate.me topics of interest so it can include those factors in determining which stories to deliver to you.
"On average we've seen 40% open rate and 60% click-through-rates for the emails [while in beta]," said Cameron Brain, co-founder of XYDO, in an interview with me.
Curate.me is essentially similar to recently-launched News.me, a start-up that has been incubated by Betaworks and The New York Times since 2010. Curate.me is also very similar to Summify, which was bought by Twitter in January, and iCurrent, which curates content based on specific intererests, and was acquired by Washington Post in 2010. The service is now called Trove. It's also fairly similar to Zite, which curates content based on your interests, and was bought by CNN for $20 million to $25 million.
But of course, it's different. To start with, Curate.me curates content based on your social network, which makes it similar to Flipboard in that way. After you've logged in, you can then tweak your preferences to let Curate.me know you like certain topics, like "start-ups" or "skiing" and even random interests like "shark feeding frenzies." Unfortunately, you can't choose which news publications you'd like to hear from. At the moment, the publications come from whatever people are sharing.
Note to Curate.me: Add in the news publication preferences. The more preferences, the happier your customers.
So how do you get started? Just log into Curate.me with either Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google Reader. Curate.me then looks at your network and determines which articles have been shared among our network of friends. Once it determines the articles, it will then look at those articles and how its network of three million members are viewing them, according to Brain.
The three million members who signed on using their credentials on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Reader, comes from Xydo's initial consumer-facing product. These members give Curate.me an idea of how the articles are tracking among a broader audience, rather than a person's limited network. By looking at these people, rather than say, overall Tweets of an article, Curate.me hopes that it will not capture bots that are Tweeting stories, but rather real people.
At the moment, there's no monetization strategy for Curate.me. But Xydo does have plans on releasing more consumer-facing products, such as an iPad version of Curate.me, according to Brain. Stay tuned.