Flipboard

A few weeks have gone by, and after forgetting about the meaningless “this is the future of media” buzz you would find in all the coverage of Flipboard, I feel like my everyday use of the application has created this a need in me that I would pay to satisfy.

The short version is that a blended branded, and curated stream could be a premium source of content on top of Flipboard’s free mechanically scrapped content streams. Many of these could exist, created and run by brands, by individuals, or by communities. It’s a need for more content that feels the same way that browsing the currently available Hacker News or Cool Hunting streams do, in how they’re more enjoyable to read because they each represent a single community. This creating a binding thread between all the content in those streams. It’s why your Twitter stream feels familiar because you know that while all the content and links point to different sites and come from different people, they all relate to your Twitter account.

It’s the blending of the many (many articles, many links, many different websites), underneath a common thread that elevates the experience to more than just browsing links.

The “everyday use” that revealed this aspect about Flipboard was not in the sense of using the application everyday for the first week that it came out, but instead it was by using the application as I went about my everyday life. That everyday use included being able find interesting content when the need arose if wanted to take a break from work, or in the morning when drinking coffee, looking for something interesting to start my day off with. I usually started with nothing more than the topic I want to browse, like technology or design, and then with every swipe of the app’s pages I was given something new and unpredictable, not knowing what the layout of the next page would be, or what images and graphics would be displayed.

What I first started to notice and appreciate was that the source of the content came secondary in importance to the content itself. There was a small 25×25 pixel favicon with the site’s name beside it. Beyond that it felt like all content was treaty equally.
Getting rid of the distinction of whether a piece of content was coming from a blog, a magazine, or a news site was refreshing. And on top of putting these different types of content side-by-side, Flipboard also made content more distinctive by curing the common symptom known as “Fucking Ugly Websites.” Flipboard gave me a universally clean and consistent design to absorb article headlines.

In general I like the experience of discovering content through the Flipboard interface enough to pay for it, with certain conditions. A Flipboard stream worth paying for would need to change in a couple ways. The first change needed for me to pay involves giving me more than only scrapped web content. Topics right now are only made up articles scrapped from specific sites, and like I mentioned before, smarter, curated streams would be incredible.

This sort of curation shouldn’t just involve putting content through a human filter, but also involve giving a Flipboard stream the unique characteristics of a creative and thinking mind. What would really be worth paying for, and what could create loyal users would be a selection of streams, each one containing a blend of articles that are relevant and that draw you in, with each stream supplementing it’s curated content with unique premium content that only appears in that stream. Think, Daring Fireball on Flipboard.

So far Flipboard is refreshing because it obfuscates the original source of a piece of content and let’s me not worry about ugly website. In each case it lets me focus on what matters. What would be great to see in the future, and what I would pay for, is a Flipboard that could bring disparate content together on a more meaningful level, and letting me know that in any one stream, every piece of content is related, bringing the big picture into play. This would help take the application from interesting, to relevant.

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