Newsfeed: Wavii distills the events described in news articles into updates on the world that look like Facebook updates.
The software can even deal with ambiguities such as articles referring to people in different ways (Jennifer Lopez and J-Lo), detect sarcasm (to avoid reporting false information), and tag celebrity updates as “rumor” when the sources aren’t clear.
Even if Wavii can’t fit an event reported by several sources into one of its templates, it will try to summarize the news in a single sentence. For example, a common follow-up story to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram wasn’t classified into a category, but was still properly summarized: “Kevin Systrom will make $400 million as a result of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram.”
Being able to understand the content of news events allows Wavii to be better customized for specific users, says Aoun. He says Wavii can make money by matching ads to what users are interested in.
“I think the idea of applying an activity stream view to the news is an interesting test,” says Nova Spivak, founder and CEO of Bottlenose, a Web service that can intelligently filter streams of social or other data to present users with updates on particular topics. Spivak has met with Aoun and tried early versions of Wavii. “They seem to be creating a new news-consumption experience, and we’ll see if it catches on,” he says.
Web users certainly need tools able to help them navigate the growing volume of online information, says Spivak. “There’s an overwhelming onslaught of data.”
Wavii is not the only startup trying to make online news reading more efficient. Flipboard and Zite are just two of the other startups in this area. But Wavii’s attempts to digest and understand the content it aggregates make it different. Spivak believes, however, that taming all of that data will require a platform capable of intelligently digesting and filtering all types of data, for example social updates as well as news, something he is trying to make possible with Bottlenose. Aoun says that although Wavii is focused on news for now, it will ultimately be able to tell you about events from other sources, such as local listings.