Trove: Try Again

Longtime Readers know that I’m keenly interested in the idea of personalized news and content — see my posts on Newsvine and Hunch — so I was intrigued to see the Washington Post‘s online team semi-quietly roll out their own entry into that space, a new site called Trove, this week.

Trove is… meh.

The first thing you notice when you hit the site is a big thing called the “Channel Finder.”

Trove Channel Finder

(In Trove-speak, a “channel” is a subject you’re interested in, and your personal Trove is a collection of these channels.)

The idea of the Channel Finder, I think, is to help you build out your list of Channels by posing you a question along the lines of “which are you more interested in: paleontology, or Sarah Palin?”

At first I thought this was pretty clever, because it felt like a Hunch-style attempt to learn more about you and then deliver content tuned to your interests, using your expressed preferences as a guide to shape recommendations.  But then I used it and discovered it’s not nearly that smart.  Rather, it just takes the one you pick and assumes that you’re literally interested in that subject and that subject alone.

In other words, if you pick “paleontology” over “Sarah Palin,” Trove doesn’t take that to mean that you’re generally more interested in science and nature than you are in rock-stupid political Barbie dolls and start feeding you more stories on astronomy and physics and so forth and less on the political news of the day; it takes it to mean that you literally want to read stories about paleontology, so it creates a “paleontology” channel in your Trove that’s stuffed with nothing but paleontology stories.

As a result of this depressing literalism, after a few minutes with the Channel Finder, I now have a personal Trove that brings me the latest headlines from channels on “Typography,” “Mountaineering,” and “Cheese.”

Just what the world has been waiting for — a personal electronic newspaper that will bring you the hottest cheese news.

Not impressed.



April 22, 2011
1:34 pm

There is a cheese news channel?