Hey NewsBlurians, I’m applying for a grant from the Knight Foundation. In a previous life I worked on DocumentCloud, a successful Knight grantee, building open-source libraries. I’m looking to continue the fine tradition of building for both users and for other developers.
I’m asking for enough to fund a year of development with the help of another engineer. Please vote for the NewsBlur grant application on Knight’s website, reblogged below.
1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
To build an intelligent social news reader for web and mobile called NewsBlur.
2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different? [30 words]
RSS feed readers exist, none have the sharing model, original site view, and intelligence classifiers of NewsBlur. Since Google Reader phased out sharing, there’s a sizable community looking to share and discuss news.
3. Describe the network with which you intend to build or work. [50 words]
NewsBlur will surface stories shared by friends and friends of friends by combining the imported networks of Twitter/Facebook with communities on NewsBlur. These communities make it easy to expand your network by showing popular comments from outside your network. NewsBlur also has intelligence classifiers which allow the user to filter and highlight comments across all networks.
4. Why will it work? [100 words]
Because it’s worked before, just under a different model in Google Reader’s now defunct all-or-nothing community. NewsBlur’s network will be oriented more towards showing relationships and distance between you and the other active commenters on a story. NewsBlur will capitalize on the value of pre-existing networks with an intuitive and clean interface that highlights the distance between users. Surfacing relative connections between people will result in a more active community and increased engagement between like-minded readers. NewsBlur further benefits newspapers, publishers, and individual writers by showing the original site (including ads and design), as well as encouraging reading through NewsBlur’s intelligence filters.
5. Who is working on it? [100 words]
I started working on NewsBlur as a side project in June 2009. Over the past 2.5 years, NewsBlur has become self-sustainable through organic growth (word-of-mouth, blog posts, github activity). Because NewsBlur is open-source, a number of contributors from the NewsBlur community have developed their own pet features which have been integrated back into the website. This also works well for finding typos in documentation and allowing users to submit a simple pull request to get it fixed.
6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
On the back-end: distributed feed fetchers and parsers. On the front-end: the feed reader itself, intelligence training, and an iPhone app. There is an actively used API, on top of which NewsBlur’s users have built a mobile website, an Android app, a Windows Phone app, and a Nokia MeeGo app. What’s not built is the entire social layer. A prototype has already been developed to surface any network relationships on comments and shared stories.
7. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]
NewsBlur is free, but there is also a premium subscription that costs between $1 - $3 per month. Users can choose how much they’d like to pay, but that means that NewsBlur is able to pay for its 8 servers. The gap between costs and revenue (also known as profit) is increasing every day.
Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: $150,000
Expected amount of time required to complete project: 1 year