Launching in January, news app Kinzen is aiming to enable users to take control of their own news routine, one that is personalised and tailored to their intentions.
The Dublin-based venture Kinzen, co-founded by Mark Little, Áine Kerr and Paul Watson, uses decision-based feedback to aggregate articles of interest, as opposed tracking your browser history or going by what your friends and family are reading.
"This doesn't send a signal of who you want to be," said Mark Little, co-founder of Kinzen. "Instead, we are hoping to make users empowered, giving you the ability to construct some form of filter and ranking system that reflects your intentions and not your instincts."
To understand what you are looking for and what you like, users choose from a set of in-app 'channels', whether that is location-based, social or professional needs. Then the app uses a 'feedback loop' which allows users to respond negatively or positively to an article based on your own set outcomes. However, it also analyses behaviour on other social platforms to determine interests.
"You can also integrate your Twitter feed, and our machine learning is going to watch what topics you have tried to follow, and we can offer suggestions on these key passions," he said.
"There is no other news app or aggregator that we can see at the moment that has the ability to drill down into those aspects of your identity quickly."
Kinzen will be launched in January on a basic subscription basis of approximately £5, will not include advertising – a decision based on pushing quality news content to the forefront of a user's experience.
"At its essence, this app is collaborative – there's a real feeling of community, where we give users control over what's going on," he said.
"It's about letting people start again, either on a personal level to build a new news routine, or collectively where they can build on the positive elements of social media but avoid the negative ones that have developed through ad-funded social platforms."
Having worked for Storyful, Twitter and Facebook, the founders are well aware of the potential of communities developing around news, as well as the dangers of technology connected to ad-funded platforms rather than users.
However, it is still in the testing phase, so Little and his team are building a pre-launch community over the next two months, inviting people to test pre-release versions of the iOS app.
"We are also asking experts to help us curate the content as we want to ensure we exclude misinformation, and people can trust what's in the feed," he said.
"There are bunches of people out there that curate sources of value every single day, and we want to invite them to come and help design the right kind of source-directory."
The long term goal is to be able to reward people who create value within the curation community, details of which will develop as the platform evolves.
The founders hope that they will be able to interest news organisations in Kinzen, to give their audiences a better news experience.
It is also seeking donations in exchange for six months access to its subscription services after they become available in January.
"News discovery should be joyous," he said. "We are trying to restore the personal feeling of agency when we had healthy news routines."
We are discussing how to make AI your best friend in the newsroom at our upcoming Newsrewired conference on 7 November.
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