Artificial Intelligence reinvents made-to-measure magazines

Imagine a magazine that constantly edits itself to match the interests of its reader – cutting out all the noise! In an almost magical way, the magazine learns about you as you read and interact with content, and assigns space to each article according to your preferences. The result is a clean, user-friendly way to consume your favourite online sources, in a simple and intuitive, yet incredibly powerful way. This is the basic idea behind NOOWIT, a web platform for reading, curating, writing and publishing.

Social media turned us all from just passive recipients of information, to active producers and broadcasters. This in turn led to a dual information overload problem, making it an almost impossible task to discover the information that truly speaks to our personal interests and needs. Meanwhile, the content we publish is most likely lost within the glut. The problem is that it never reaches its full potential audience, quickly becoming obsolete due to the short life-span of information in today’s real-time web.

The Web had a shocking impact on the traditional vertical model of newspapers and magazines. Content by itself is no longer a viable product since it can be reproduced and disseminated at almost zero cost. So, the problems that traditional print media is facing are not just a matter of medium (digital versus paper), they are systemic. NOOWIT seeks to play a fundamental role in the transition from the struggling mass media to the emerging personalised social media.

Discovering the exact formula for how personalised content should be delivered and consumed might have seemed like a far-reaching goal. But the NOOWIT team managed it! And more than that, we made it look fresh and minimal at the same time. Say goodbye to information overload! NOOWIT is the result of a decade of research in Artificial Intelligence, and well over a year of web development.

The platform tackles the difficult information overload problem by providing a real time filter to the immensity of the wider web. It curates information in the form of a magazine capable of learning the interests of each individual reader and adapting to them accordingly.

Based on the findings from earlier prototypes it became apparent that the traditional way of presenting information as ranked lists, such as search results, is just not adequate for personalising real-time information. To solve this problem we devised what we call “two-dimensional” ranking. The magazine’s pages are ordered chronologically from fresh to older articles, but within each page, articles are ranked according to their relevance to the reader’s interests, by assigning each article space proportional to its relevance score. This way the reader can easily discover the content that matters to them, and the content producer can rest assured that their content will be discovered by those who matter most.

The beginning of NOOWIT goes back to my PhD work on adaptive information filtering, completed in 2004 at the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) of the Open University, in the UK. During my studies, I developed a biologically inspired model for profiling a user’s interests, and gave it the name “Nootropia”. The name stems from the Greek word for an individual’s or a group’s particular way of thinking, or someone’s characteristics of intellect and perception. Subsequent testing over the years scientifically proved that Nootropia presents computational and offers practical advantages over existing approaches to content filtering and recommendation. The work and the name evolved into NOOWIT– composed of the Greek word “νους” (noo), meaning mind, and the English word “wit”. In other words, it means ‘keen intelligence’.

NOOWIT’s first private beta edition was released June 2012, and has attracted the interest of the Hellenic start-up community and of 500 subscribed users, mainly from Greece. NOOWIT’s second version took into account valuable user feedback and has been re-designed in collaboration with the design firm PointBlank. It has just been relaunched at the end of March 2013. NOOWIT is currently available by invitation only, so if you’d like to be one of the first few to try it out, you can enter your email here, to receive a non-transferable private invitation.

Nikolaos Nanas, founder and CEO NOOWIT

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