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How piqd wants to boost quality journalism and clear up the Internet for us

The Internet has turned into a place overcrowded with increasingly noisy content, which makes it hard to find news and information really relevant for users. It's a problem so-called news discovery services have been trying to solve for quite some time now. 

Platforms like Prismatic, Nuzzel, Newswhip or digg.com are based on algorithms which try to discover trends or social relevance by analysing how content is shared and distributed or how people consume information. 

In contrast to this automated solutions, which solemnly rely on Big Data as a source and predictive analysis for the discovery, or machine learning to understand relevancy, now piqd, a German startup based in Munich has entered the solution space to offer a curated service by experts as an alternative.

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Above: "piqd" by @berlinergazette, asks its readers if this is relevant content them

Services like Newswhip use social media to find the pieces which are trending. It uses social signals as indicators of content expected to trend soon. They surface such content with the help of algorithms and offer filter so that users can either filter based on the location or the subject they are interested in. The mass amount of data, of social shares, the crowdsourcing of curation, and the mathematical models are what makes this approach powerful.

 
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Above: Screenshot of Spike/Newswhip show how users can search for trending content applying multiple filters.

Nuzzel relies on a friend approach to get it right. Similar to Facebook but without limits of its algorithm preventing us from having access to the full potential social graph, Nuzzel uses your friends to understand which content might be interesting for you. This approach went into its visual design. A daily digest, which users receive by email, show which off your friends had shared the piece in question. As well as Newswhip this is also an approach which makes heavily use of the curation by many but in addition uses the social graph, our connectedness to people closest to us, to present only relevant pieces as long as someone believes that shared-by-friends is useful as a metric to measure relevancy.

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Above: Screenshot Nuzzle newsletter digest

In contrast Prismatic uses machine learning and the interest graph to come up with content suggestions. It's (in its own words) “a personalized news feed that learns as you use it”. Users sign in and select topics of interest. The backend system learns from this selection and through the interaction of the user with its content. Relevancy as in case of all learning systems, will improve over time.

Frederik Fischer one of piqd's founders believes that there is a tremendous amount of hiqh-quality journalism on the Internet right now, entertaining, unconvenient, descriptive on a mission to help us understand the world around us. 

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In the eyes of Fischer a sad truth: for increasingly more people social networks are the main destination to get the news. A problematic development, Fischer thinks, as social networks have their own agenda of how, when and what should be published an distributed via their systems. "It becomes more and more evident that social networks are not built for news," says Fischer in an explainer video on the startups' Facebook page and adds, that "journalism which takes more time doesn't show up on these networks, if it's not a real traffic booster."

Piqd wants to be an answer to that problem. Its founders want to be an alternative to Facebook. The platform aims to become the information sweet spot, where people concerned about a subject turn to to find a new home. In contrast to all the algorithm-driven sites and systems pigd works with so-called experts, namly journalists, scientists and politicians, who pick the most interesting piece of the day, curate it, adding an additional layer of comment and context. The role of the expert is to find something important in their domain on a daily base and to curate that information for the interested audience. Piqd wants to become a social network for content exchange which lives from its experts and the curated channels and probably from the community engagement which will be attached to each of its various channels. The plans at the moment are to monetize that additional community engagement. If you want to pick your content in the community, premium members will be asked to pay a small fee of €3 per month. The question is, if people would be willing to follow the idea of interest streams curated by a handful experts in contrast to the algorithm based content suggestion and discovery systems on the Internet available partly for free right now. 

Will people believe in piqd's promise to deliver content of higher value and relevance?

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