NOOWIT is Google Reader + Flipboard +

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Google Reader is a deadman walking, and there are all kinds of buzzards circling around in the quest to replace Google Reader and take over those user relationships, data & views. Next week, Digg (in name only) will release their new RSS reader which has been dubbed to be the Google Reader replacement (coded in 90 days). In addition, Feedly and Flipboard are making the moves to beef themselves up to deflect the interest of potential long term users and Digg.

The folks at NOOWIT asked me to check out their platform, which is a breath of fresh air in RSS and blog syndication. All in all, NOOWIT reminds me of Google Reader + Flipboard +, in a simplified reading and learning atmosphere. NOOWIT uses Artificial Intelligence to suggest stories that you will like based on what you read and your interests.

At first glance NOOWIT resembles Flipboard and some other platforms, a way of aggregating things we love into magazines, and so on. The comparison at this point is a fair one, but visually stunning magazine presentation is where NOOWIT, Flipboard, and other content curating services part company. Here I can shortcut helping you understand NOOWIT by simply suggesting the platform is these other nice developments, with publishing and far better mobile capabilities (potentially), with a really smart machine learning to help you sort things out.

NOOWIT: An Info Overload Pill

Now that Flipboard and others who use the myriad feed services understand NOOWIT is “like” some other excellent tools, there are several key things that differentiate it you need to look at. First and foremost, NOOWIT “learns” what user preferences are and presents highly refined and relevant content.

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According to the NOOWIT Team : Inspired by our immune system, NOOWIT can learn and continuously adapt to a user’s multiple interests, and with a minimum of effort on their behalf. No keywords, no index, no Natural Language Analysis, no Ontologies required.

NOOWIT’s approach with so-called Adaptive Information Filtering, this is interesting stuff given all we have seen in the realm of search engines. Perhaps we’ll have some time later for a discussion of “next-gen” context mechanisms, but for now it’s enough to know ideas are budding out there.

Interestingly enough, the AI works a bit like our own auto immune system in blocking information we do not need or want. The way the NOOWIT system of “learning” works is not dissimilar from other “voting” systems, except the results are. Put simply, NOOWIT can cut in half your information uptake – that is, with a bit of use.

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NOOWIT “learns” about what users want to read all by its lonesome, but the system shortcuts the process via the CUTit button, which pushes out undesirable content, and the LOVit button that elevates preferred content. Now this seems pretty simple and unimaginative until one sees the rendered curative result. NOOWIT translate all those LOVit, MAGit, SHARit, and CUTit inputs, plus AI relevance factor rendering not only a highly individualized feed-like experience, but a visually relevant one. In effect, important stuff for you gets blown up bigger on you NOOWIT pages.

While this may not sound so breathtakingly smart, but NOOWIT automatically renders on any screen size. What’s relevant to you blows up big and first on that iPhone, theoretically at least, I did not have time to test this.

NOOWIT and Preference Cloning

Okay, making someone a customized magazine layout the way they want it is not so special a task. However, users going about their business and systematically creating volumes that are perfect representations of their wants and needs content wise? That’s a bit like cloning one’s digital profile and laying it out on the table, isn’t it? Combining machine learning input with human selection for a user, behind the scenes, this is another of NOOWIT’s super potentials. Other than this though, the startup shows still more flexibility and differentiation.

Last, but certainly not least NOOWIT has done a very nice job of emulating what’s good about platforms like Flipboard and Feedly, and superimposing a great many user tools and possibilities over them. Like most beta startups dependent on a broad user base, NOOWIT has its mountains to climb adaptation wise. My brief experimentation within the system revealed far fewer weaknesses than strengths than I expected though. Social potential, instant mobile convertibility, what looks like true AI (I err to the skeptical side always), and a fine customizable feel make NOOWIT something I’ll surely try and use. And, is the best anyone can say in the land of content overload.

SEJ will be also reviewing the new Digg Reader next week ๐Ÿ™‚

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
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  • Nikolaos Nanas

    Thanks for the review Loren.

    I am really glad you found Noowit interesting. I am confident it can help you a lot in keeping up to date with everything that interests you out there.

    Just a minor comment regarding:
    “In effect, important stuff for you gets blown up bigger on you NOOWIT pages. While this may not sound so breathtakingly smart, but NOOWIT automatically renders on any screen size. What’s relevant to you blows up big and first on that iPhone, theoretically at least, I did not have time to test this.
    Okay, making someone a customized magazine layout the way they want it is not so special a task.”

    Separating articles into pages and rendering each page in such a way that each article occupies space proportional to its relevance score is not that straightforward, especially if you want to do it for any window dimensions, while maintaining typography rules. Also, it is not easy to achieve if the granularity of the relevance scores is not enough. You need an adequately large range of relevance scores, which is not easy for example if you just rely on number of likes or tweets, or on just a few keywords. It is made possible due the combination of our algorithm’s accuracy and specificity with a rendering algorithm that we have also devised. To our knowledge there is no service out there that presents content in such an adaptive way (please correct me if I am wrong) and it really makes a difference. Our data show that Noowit readers are more likely to read and love the suggested “large” stories, while they ignore the least interesting ones. According to the data, this reduces the time they spent looking for relevant information by half or even more.

    B.T.W. Noowit is already pretty compatible with tablet devices, but is not yet designed (although it does work) for mobile devices. Our native iPhone version is under way and I am sure it will blow your mind away ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Drew Crawley

    I’ve been using Flipboard for a while now, and I’ve been perfectly pleased with its offerings. I checked out Noowit over the weekend, and I have to admit I went into it thinking it’d be another reader with some bells and whistles, but no muchof a stand out. This thing is a COMPLETELY different platform!

    I have to tinker about with it some more, but I’m impressed so far. Does take some getting used to, but I’m having fun testing its smarts. I like to refresh it after I’ve read or bookmared something to see how it changes things for me. Will they make an app version for itunes store/android market?

    • Nikolaos Nanas

      Thanks Drew,

      it gets better and better as you use it.
      Also don’t forget to “Cut the Noise” once you feel you have trained Noowit enough. There will be a dedicated button soon, but until then just visit the Reading Setting under the main menu. From there you will be able to change your relevance filter, the magazine’s sparsity and show or hide the right column with the least relevant articles. Doing so will result in a Magazine that only contains relevant articles, with beautiful pages. It even becomes faster as the content being presented is reduced. It makes a hell of a difference you’ll see. And it will even make a greater difference on the iPhone. Our native app is due end of july and I am confident you will love it.

  • Alena

    Interesting stuff. I think it’s really innovative to allow users to basically select the sources that make up their own magazine, while giving them a real time “super” editor at the same time. I just wish there was a way to generate your own unique content even if you don’t have a blog. I’m not a blogger, but I’d like to be able to comment or in other ways edit content before I just bookmark it or repost it. I always end up cutting and pasting and emailing instead of using the quick links on online articles just for that purpose!

    • Nikolaos Nanas

      Thanks for the comments Alena,

      our authoring tool is almost ready. It is due soon after our public beta launch on the 1st of July. It will allow you to directly post an article via your personal magazine and will be really easy and minimal. For all developments you can follow noowit on twitter @noowitmags