A review of Trove, Washington Post’s news aggregation service

Apr 20, 2011   //   by admin   //   Blog, Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

The Washington Post is betting you are being overwhelmed by so much online news, you’ll need a hand sorting out what you like. The newspaper company launched Trove today, and the site is being billed as a “new digital news experience that gives you easy access to the information you care about,” as WaPo CEO Don Graham explained in a welcome note.

He goes on to say, “As a Trove user, you’ll have the power to create your own channels, which you can use to follow the people, places, things, and information sources that catch your eye.”

How does Trove work? You are encouraged to sign in with your Facebook account, using Connect, in order for Trove to determine what interests you based on the things you “like” on Facebook. So when I used Connect to try out Trove, the site immediately knew I was interested in Stephen Colbert, citizen journalism, basketball, the tech blog Mashable, and so on. It included a channel on the Golden Globes for some reason, which means I must’ve “liked” something related to the Globes recently, even though it’s not a Page I frequent.

When you reach the Trove front page, you are confronted with a display of various channels, such as one on basketball or Osama bin Laden, depending on your interests. These channels pull from 10,000 sources, not all of them mainstream. So for my Colbert channel, I can see recent stories from Truthdig or Slashfood or The Atlantic. Trove tells me 78 articles include mentions of Colbert, although some are simply blog posts from those I normally wouldn’t find, which can be interesting or disappointing.

You can also create custom channels. I decided to create a news stream relating to all things Toronto, so I found sources such as the Toronto Star and Metro News Toronto to include in this channel. I also included any news relating to the Toronto Raptors, my favourite local sports team. Unfortunately, Trove couldn’t find my ideal Toronto blogs, Torontoist and blogTO, so I’m assuming Trove isn’t pulling from under-the-radar sources on a hyperlocal level.

The left side of the front page showcases “Editor’s Picks”, ranging from world to tech news. More well-known news sites are listed here, such as USA Today, The Guardian and, of course, the Washington Post.

Problem is, if you have a lot of channels it can be difficult to find them on the front page. I added the Toronto channel but Trove only displayed a few of my channels on the front page, such as basketball and Colbert and citizen journalism. Where was my Toronto page? I had to dig around to find it, and Trove didn’t seem to allow me to customize what channels appear where. It is the first day in public beta, so bugs are bound to occur.

Another section, Conversations, lets you comment on a certain topic, such as basketball, or one a certain news outlet, such as the New York Times. But right now, it’s somewhat dead there, since Trove just launched, but I posted a topic-starter in the Jeopardy section, so will wait to see if anyone replies. I’m curious to find out how people will come across my conversation, too.

Trove has also rolled out an Android app, with iPhone, iPad and Blackberry apps coming soon. I have an iPhone so I wasn’t able to test the Android app.

Have you tried out Trove? What do you think of personalized news services?

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