November 3, 2011
Last fall, Colorado suffered a devastating wildfire. As the flames spread, they left a trail of tweets, Flickr photos, and collaborative Google maps – disconnected information that was constantly changing.
This natural disaster was the inspiration for Crowdspoke, a news platform centered on topics where users vote stories up and down – and a useful illustration of how it differs from Reddit.
“Sites like Reddit are good for discovering the best of the web; we organize communities around very specific topics,” says Michael Pastko, who attended Purdue University with his two cofounders and previously founded Coupious. “It allows you to peer into the conversation around the topic.”
“Crowdspoke also has a much greater emphasis on real-time content,” he adds.
Along with reader votes, Crowdspoke uses an algorithm to balance popular and recent content, in topic pages as narrow as iPhone 4S reviews, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and even Tech Cocktail. A Livestream section shows the latest content pulled from Twitter, based on keywords selected by users, and readers can sort by images, videos, and links. This model is similar to the Washington Post’s Trove, which is based on topics but has more editorial curation.
The Crowdspoke team currently chooses which topics to create and delete, but they plan to move to a more user-controlled system. They are also exploring different business models, such as selling data aggregated around topics or licensing their feeds to other websites. Crowdspoke showcased their work thus far at our Tech Cocktail Boulder mixer.
As the beta continues, Crowdspoke will work on putting the most popular content front-and-center and improving the UI, which is fairly plain right now – another way it will distinguish itself from Reddit.
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