Wavii Builds a Facebook-Style Feed for All the World’s News

11/29/12Follow @bromano

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big data, information extraction, and machine learning, among others. “A lot of research we’ve done with the technology was not like a six-month project, it was a multi-year project,” he says.

To create that Facebook feed for the world’s events, Wavii had to find a way to replicate the work that a billion Facebook users do today almost by rote. Those feeds of your friends’ comings and goings, affinities, moods, pictures and so on are all based on manual entry of structured data, augmented with context such as maps, related pictures, and other information from Facebook’s vast and expanding database. This is perhaps easily forgotten as updating Facebook—entering that data—has become a part of the daily routine.

Wavii’s system—which lives on Amazon Web Services; Wavii claims not to own a single server or desktop computer—crawls the “real-time Web,” meaning “news articles, blog posts, Tweets, videos, anything we can get our hands on the second it’s coming online,” Aoun explains. It harvests from that mass of content the information needed to create news feeds. These amount to quick summaries of events with the salient details illuminated for easiest consumption. It frees users, Aoun argues, from a world where we’re “still stuck… reading news articles to consume everything”.

Of course, there’s still a place for deep reading, he says. From within the Wavii news summary, you can dive in to the source content from which it is synthesized. “My goal is actually to drive traffic to” the original content creators, Aoun says, noting that the system pulls up relevant stories from the past to add yet more context to the current news, driving traffic to a publisher’s archives.

Adrian Aoun

But you don’t have to dive in. Just like you can get up to speed on the Facebook lives of hundreds of people in a few minutes each morning, Wavii offers the prospect of a very fast skim of the news you’re interested in, skipping across the surface, sucking up the salient details, and heading off on your way.

“We want to get away from forcing users to read every single Tech-Crunch article and instead just let them focus on the ones they want,” Aoun says. “So our goal is to create higher quality engagement with fewer pieces of content.”

Aoun readily admits that this sort of synthesis is already available for some things. Google “MSFT stock” or “Seattle weather” and the top result is a real-time quote or a four-day forecast, with links to follow for more details.

“The problem is that they only do it for a few things, right?” Aoun says. Wavii covers thousands of topics.

What about Twitter? “I go to Twitter to get the high level. Except that the problem with Twitter is that it’s fundamentally broken when I get this high level, because I still have to kind of click into each article,” he says. And, “you can’t follow your actual interests.”

Lots of companies are trying to aggregate and personalize news, and have been for some time. The ones that appear most like Wavii are … Next Page »

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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  • Devon

    Interesting article. Looks like a cool idea but we’ll see whether computers are actually better than humans are curating news. It really depends on how much you care about stories that aren’t “top news” b/c that’s what circa is doing right? Focusing on the top stories but Wavii seems to get everything. Look forward to checking out this release!

  • Mehrab Batija

    Thanks for sharing, great article,
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