19. June 2012–
Scoopinion aggregates feature stories based on your reading behavior. The platform works by rating stories based on how “well” they’re actually read: not clicked or shared, but rather how long you spend on them, if you get to the end, your scrolling behavior and speed.
To gain access to these reading habits, Scoopinion asks you to sign up and install a browser plugin. The stories become more relevant to you the more you use it, because the platform is getting know your reading paths. All you have to do is read.
The best thing about Scoopinion is that it’s anonymous, taking social perception out of the game. “There’s no way to cheat it,” founder Johannes Koponen tells us. “If your behavior demonstrates you’re reading book reviews more than product reviews, we’re going to show you those, even if all your Facebook posts are from TechCrunch.”
When I ask him, Koponen shows me heat maps where the team is analysing your attention curve. They have an engine that tracks behavior (“this article was read well”), a system that formulates heuristics (“therefore, this article is likely engaging”) and a system that recommends the stories (“hey, you might like this”).
A defence against access-based journalism and click whores
The articles you’ll find on your Scoopinion feed come from roughly 700 publications hand-picked by the Finnish team of five. They call it “the whitelist” and they’re adding to it (selectively) every day, based on user recommendations. Publications range from the Washington Post to The Verge to Mother Jones, Vogue and The Awl. “It’s for people who want to read beyond the title, which surprisingly, is what a lot of reading behavior shows”.
Scoopinion aggregates recommendations from the crowd, based on their true behavior. Clicks, shares and likes show us what our friends want to identify themselves with, but not necessarily where they’re actually engaging their attention. “Typically click-bait publications like Gawker wouldn’t make it onto the feed we serve you,” Koponen explains, “but when Gawker stories do show up, you know it’s because they’re high quality.
Koponen is an engineer pursuing his phD in media research. “Access-based journalism is ruining the field,” he says. “Other engines like Flipboard, Summify (acquired by Twitter in January) or even Google News track clicks but not reading behavior data. I’m pissed off that people are tweeting stories they haven’t actually read, and that headlines are asking me questions like ‘Is this a real airplane? I want to offer an alternative to that.”
Unless content represents you positively, you’re unlikely to share it
Scoopinion is also addressing the problem that you won’t share stories that are taboo or offensive, such as articles on domestic violence, handcuffs or Goetse. “My friends don’t want to share stories about Game of Thrones, but they’re definitely reading them,” laughs Koponen. There’s a wide range of “well” read stories that aren’t shared, from The Huffington Post’s “After Rapes Involving Children, Skout, a Flirting App, Faces Crises,” to one article published recently in Vice called “Talking to a Paedophile on Habbo Hotel” which garnered Vice an impressive 79% read-through rate (while Vice stories ordinarily exhibit something closer to 55%). The platform elegantly addresses this less social niche of content.
After receiving funding, the team moved from Helsinki to Berlin
Scoopinion closed its first major round of funding in late September, a week before Facebook launched Frictionless Sharing. Funding came from a media innovation contest (open to everyone internationally) run by the Helsingin Sanomain Saatio, the foundation behind Finland’s biggest newspaper. “We felt that the networking opportunities were greater here, but Helsinki’s awesome in August so we have to be there. We’re going to work outside in parks, mostly. The idea is to charge our laptops while we eat lunch.”
Scoopinion is currently in private beta, but is anticipating full public launch in Chrome Gallery within the next two weeks. Invites are currently closed, but for VentureVillage readers, they’re releasing 100 more. To get one, follow this link now!