So Long, and Thanks for All the Links

 

Prismatic is shutting down its app.

I’ve been fascinated by algorithmic approaches to information overload for quite some time now. It seemed like one of those places where the Web changed everything, and now we need technology to kick in and make our lives so much easier.

Prismatic_logo,_June_2014Prismatic was one of the more promising attempts to that I’ve seen, and I’ve been a user ever since its launch back in 2012. Every time I opened it, it never failed to find me real gems, especially given the tiny setup it required when I first signed up. Prismatic included explicit feedback controls, but it seemed to excel in using my implicit feedback, which is not trivial at all for a mobile product.

flipboard-logo-iconFlipboard is likely the best alternative out there right now, and its excellent onboarding experience helped me get started quickly with a detailed list of topics to follow. With reasonable ad-powered revenue, which Prismatic seemed to shun for whatever reason, it is also less likely to shut down anytime soon. Prismatic still does a much better job than Flipboard in surfacing high-quality, long-tail, non-mainstream sources; let’s hope Flipboard continues improving to get there.

It seems, though, that news personalization is not such a strong selling point. Recently, Apple moved from a pure personalized play for its Apple News app to also add curated top stories, as its view counts disappointed publishers. In my own experience, even the supposed personalized feed was mostly made up of 3-4 mainstream sources anyway. Let’s hope that this is not where information overload is leading us back to. Democratizing news and getting a balanced and diverse range of opinions and sources is a huge social step forward, that the Web and Social Media have given us. Let’s not go backwards.

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2 responses to “So Long, and Thanks for All the Links

  1. Prismatic was so much better than FlipBoard I don’t think you can honestly call them a viable alternative. Try simply looking up Bash or Bash scripting.. you either get some crud not related to Unix in the least-bit or you get an article over a year old! Right now Prismatic users are waiting to be homeless.

    • I did remember Flipboard as nowhere near Prismatic in its level of personalized filtering quality, but gave it a fresh start today and it’s actually improved significantly from the last time I test-drove it. But yeah – Prismatic was the best in class; if only its team would excel in business as it did with machine learning… 😦

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