For years, Facebook has sworn by the power of algorithms to serve users a personalized mix of status updates, stories and photos. It’s what makes up the heart of the company’s premier product, the News Feed.
Soon, Facebook will add another approach to delivering the news: Via a new app, humans working for Facebook will start telling you which news stories you should be reading.
The thing that makes Google News so awkward sometimes, and the thing that makes click-obsessed sites like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed seem so frivolous, is that they forget something essential about news. The important thing about the news is that you're not telling people what they want to hear. You're telling them what they need to hear. Algorithms are desperate to please. News sources can't have that luxury. You need a human being to tell the difference.
Facebook's Flipboard-like Paper project has been a long time coming. I'll be interested to see how they attempt to turn Facebook into a magazine. To succeed, Paper is going to have to be more than a desperate attempt to keep people from clicking away from Facebook to read the entirety of an article; it's got to have personality. Real, human personality.
(Thanks to Slog tipper Greg.)