Twitter is a staple of most newsrooms these days. Whether they’re looking for the next big celebrity gaffe or in search of seemingly innocuous chatter that might lead to a major scoop, journalists increasingly rely on tools like Tweetdeck and HootSuite to navigate through a sea of tweets. Now, Dutch startup Nine Connections is relaunching as a different kind of Twitter tool for newsroom staff.
Nine Connections launched a year ago as a consumer-based product that aimed to find interesting online content by looking at the links being shared by the Twitter contacts of just nine Twitter users handpicked by the Nine Connections user. If that sounds complicated, that’s because it was.
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The team saw particular potential for their product, though, when they trialled it with media outlets such as The Guardian and The Economist. Now they’ve reworked it as a simplified service aimed squarely at media professionals who want to stay ahead of the crowd, catching interesting new articles, videos and images more quickly.
The Web app consists of two columns. On the left, you can see the latest links that your Twitter contacts are sharing, while on the right you get to see the links those same contacts can see in their feed. If there’s someone who always seems to tweet or retweet interesting links, now you can know about them at the same time they do.
There’s plenty of automatic and manual filtering going on. Nine Connections filters out links that are not articles, pictures or videos, meaning there shouldn’t be any location checkins, streaming music service links or any other clutter. The app currently supports English and Dutch, allowing users to filter by language or see articles in both languages.
A key feature is that users can create custom ‘newsrooms’ within the app, so they can add specialists in certain topics to dedicated feeds. Some curation of your sources is highly recommended in fact. While many of the people I follow tend to be pretty much on top of the news, some of them still tweet out ‘old news’, If you’re using Nine Connections as it’s intended, you’ll want to be seeking out the best Twitter sources you can in your field(s) of interest.
So, is it any good? In use, Nine Connections feels a bit like a live version of News.me‘s daily emails compiling interesting and relevant links being shared on Twitter. If users put work into curating their right sources, there could well be value to newsrooms here. The main thing I’d really like to see added would be a filter for ‘old news’, so if the timestamp on an article being shared is more than, say, two hours old, it’s filtered out. For those seeking the very latest news, this would be a real help.
Nine Connections intends to charge €29 ($38) per user per month, but the first 1,000 users can pay €89 ($117) to cover usage right up to the start of April 2013. These users will also get early access to the next version of the app.
The problem for Nine Connections? Now that they no longer limit users to nine Twitter connections, the name is meaningless. Still, it’s memorable, and in branding as in journalism, impact is vital.
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