A long list of startups have put forth a Herculean effort to find the best way to suggest new things for people to read, and former Slashdot editor-in-chief Rob Malda, also known as CmdrTaco, just unveiled his: Trove, a people-powered app initially available on the web and for iPhone and iPad.
Trove basically lets users opt in to feeds of stories that align with their interests. Users are encouraged to curate "troves," collections of stories that relate to a particular theme. You could create a trove for "Ukrainian Politics," "Dog Heroes," or "Best of The Verge," for example, to which other Trove users can subscribe.
"The core of the product is that people have many interests and rather than just giving them information through pure algorithms and picking particular publications, we want to connect them with people who share those interests, who can pick the best content in those topical areas," says Vijay Ravindran, CEO of Trove.
"This is a solution to the signal to noise problem."
Ravindran and Malda used to work in the Washington Post's WaPo Labs until the paper was bought by Jeff Bezos and the Labs unit was one of the assets retained by the parent company Graham Holdings. The predecessor to Trove was the Washington Post Social Reader, which unveiled at the Facebook conference f8 and showed you which stories your friends were reading. That product was successful at first, but its popularity waned after Facebook made changes to the News Feed and it will now be replaced by Trove.
Trove will launch with a group of curators including tech writer Vivek Wadhwa on "Advancing Technologies," Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran on "Afghan War," and the Young Turks on "Money in Politics." Trove first launched in 2010 with a greater emphasis on using signals from Twitter and Facebook to recommend content but essentially fizzled and was wrapped up into Social Reader. The new version of Trove will rely more on hand-curation by power users.
If you're the kind of person who uses RSS and Google Alerts to follow topics, Trove could be a better solution. The app algorithmically pushes stories to you that align with your troves, and you choose which to curate. It's also easy to push new stories to Twitter and Facebook, increasing the possibility that you'll be the first to share something.
"The internet has gone through a number of life cycles," says Malda. "Slashdot rose up in an era prior to the popularization of the term 'blog.' A lot of things have changed since then. This is a solution to the signal to noise problem. There's lots of solutions to the signal to noise problem, but this is one that is designed to scale."