As more and more news floods the Internet, more and more companies are releasing products to help you sift through that flood. One of the latest is socialmedian, a site that uses social networking tools to help users find the articles that are most interesting and relevant to them. The idea, says chief executive Jason Goldberg, is that people with common interests are better at filtering the news for each other than traditional media.
With so much competition, it’s hard to see how another news site can stand out. To use my own habits as an example, I live and die by aggregators like Techmeme and Google News, and there are plenty of sites that offer a more social experience too, most prominently Digg (which just announced a partnership with Facebook). Even Google has started adding sharing and commenting features to its RSS reader. And there are specialized news networks, like the political site Skewz.
But the plethora of sites also points to the size of the problem, and the room for different approaches. Goldberg (who previously co-founded Jobster) and his team are experimenting with tools that can make the newsreading experience better and more personalized.
The site is still evolving, but its core features are its customizable news networks and the ability to “clip” stories. There are currently more than 600 networks on topics like tech news, venture capital and the presidential campaign. Even better, users can create their own networks, identifying general topics and specific news sources that socialmedian should scour for articles.
Within each network, users can click the “clip it!” icon next to the stories that are most relevant to them. That saves the story on a user’s own home page — more importantly, other users can see in their news feeds what you have clipped. Now, “clipping” may sound a bit like “digging” (namely, saying you like a story on Digg), but the focus is less on the all-out popularity contests that you find on Digg, and more on seeing what people with similar interests are reading.
It also helps that socialmedian continues to add bells and whistles. For example, it has launched a contest for users to create and vote on the best design for the site, and it just enabled RSS for user’s news feeds.
Socialmedian is still in private testing mode, so it’s too early to say much about its traction. Still, Goldberg says that 30 percent of the early users are returning to the site daily and view nine pages on average during each visit.
Goldberg also sent out an email today saying socialmedian is “inching toward” public testing. Until then, we’ve got 200 invites for our readers, so you can check it out for yourself. Just go to the socialmedian site, and create a new account using “venturebeat” as the password.
New York-based socialmedian has raised a seed round from angel investors and from the Washington Post. Goldberg says he may raise more angel money later this year.