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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

Managing Niagarank, a news aggregator and robot curator

Luistxo Fernandez 2013/02/13 16:46

I am currently working at the helm at Niagarank, a new newssite we launched in January for the Spanish market. At CodeSyntax we have developed a robot curator engine that we call Robsoc, and Niagarank is one instance in which Robsoc is working right now. With this technology, we can create automated news channels about any topic, in any language, made from most shared items on Twitter by algorithmically ranked experts.

Niagarank crawls realtime news watching what the people tweets. In 40 distinct channels we have detected and ranked a community of several thousand users, and tracking their tweets in realtime, we also rank the news that sprout out. The curation process is automated and massive. Thousands of links are analyzed, and only a handful are published. For instance, this is one week of activity in one of those channels, Politics.

Niagarank, curation datuak

I used that graph at a recent conference I gave at the Master in Digital Journalism at the IE School of Communication, Madrid. Then, they interviewed me for the blog, and here there are those Q&A's:

In your opinion, what is the role of social media in communication field?
LF: All social media play a central role in the realm of communication. Well, Internet itself is pure communication, best invention we could imagine for that human need… Then, introducing one’s social entourage as an enhancer of the communication experience adds nuances to that experience. On one side, you can create your own communication channel selecting your sources (friends or otherwise), but on the other, closed circles can also be created. Your entourage has a certain color or taste, and what you consume, at the end, may end being monocolor…

In Niagarank, Twitter assumes a role in journalism area: people enter in the platform and see the most commented (by consequence, important) subjects of the day. It can be considered as “audience natural edition”. In your opinion, is it a trend that social media also assumes a role in the journalism field?
LF: Social media is a prime informative source for many of us. We get to know relevant news and information through those channels rather than by mainstream media. But at the same time, the amount of noise and irrelevant chatter may be overwhelming. Although Trending Topics in Twitter might be informative, many times they are just a miscelaneous chaos. In Niagarank, on the other hand, we try to refine information, not in terms of Topics, but real news or informative links, and we add up the most relevant tweets to those items, not just the most retweeted, but also the ones that are relevant to that community. And I say community, because we have created distinct channels in Niagarank, and in each one of these channels, we follow a different set of users.

What is special about Twitter?
LF: It is obviously the social networking with biggest connection to the concept of news and information. Therefore, it is the closest to what might be considered media.

On what markets do you see opportunities for Niagarank? Why?
LF: We are trying to build as a destination newssite in Spain. That is a b2c perspective, trying to reach the audience in general, people that is thirsty for news in this or that subject. But, we also believe in a b2b setting, in which the content-discovery functionality of Niagarank can be put to the service of organizations or businesses which need to develop a content-rich experience for their web or social media strategies. In order  to fulfill that objective, they might purchase content, hire content creators… or use the automated machinery of Niagarank, a cost-effective solution.

More about Niagarank in English here. Of course the name is a combination of Niagara (we've built a torrent of news) and Rank (ranking experts and links is what the robot does). Soon we hope to offer more in this language: we launched with a .es domain, but we've got the .com version in preparation :)


Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

Ingelesen hilerria

El cementerio de los ingleses


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