In the digital age, the sheer volume of news available at the touch of a smartphone button has prompted many people to look to technology to shape their reading habits. There are already a number of apps — this and this — offering reading material based on how much time the user has, and now Blockfeed is filtering news based on the reader’s location. Blockfeed enables users to access hyper-local news from a variety of sources based on their exact whereabouts when they launch the app.
Blockfeed, which is currently live in New York City, is an aggregation and distribution platform that uses algorithms to select from approximately 700 daily articles, and determine which ones gains prominence on the app’s front page in any given place. News articles are sourced from mainstream media outlets as well as small blogs and local new sources — with the primary factor being their geolocation, down to the street or block. Since the app automatically prioritizes articles — from a large newspapers or small bloggers — by distance, it could theoretically democratize the playing field and bring keen readers to some of the local writers. Clicking on an article also takes the reader directly to the news source rather than keeping them within the app. Newer articles and those that have gained a lot of traction on social media are automatically prioritized, and articles are also organized into categories — such as ‘things to do’, ‘news’ or ‘reviews’ — and all stories are accompanied by a map showing their location.
New Yorkers can download the app to their smartphone now — the Android app was launched last month, joining the iOS version. Blockfeed is expected to launch in other large US cities soon. What other factors could be used to filter online news?