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This article was published on July 27, 2012

YouTube founders’ new magazine-focused Web curation app Zeen opens in beta

YouTube founders’ new magazine-focused Web curation app Zeen opens in beta
Martin Bryant
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Martin Bryant

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Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

Back in April, AVOS, the company started by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, quietly launched a teaser for a new project called Zeen. Today it’s gone live to people who applied for early beta access.

AVOS’ first original project, following its previous acquisition of Delicious from Yahoo, it’s similarly based around the idea of content curation, but whereas Delicious is about tags and bookmarks, Zeen is a more developed version of the ‘social newspaper’ services like Paper.li that were popular a couple of years ago, allowing more customization of the content.

So, what’s it like to use?

After connecting your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, you get the option to create your first magazine, choosing from a number of template styles and color schemes.

You enter a title:

And can optionally search for a cover image which appears to come from a licensed or Creative Commons library. I chose a lion.

You then dive into creating the magazine, without quite so much guidance about what you’re doing or why. Tools along the top of the magazine allow you to add content from the likes of Google searches, YouTube content, Instagram photos, Twitter, RSS feeds (you have to enter the feed URL) – or content you’ve clipped from around the Web using a blookmarklet.

Once you’ve added as much content as you like, one piece of content per page, you can publish your magazine to share with others. As yet, it appears that these can’t be viewed by anyone not in the beta, but here are a couple of screenshots below of what they look like.

When we interviewed him earlier this year, Chad Hurley said that future AVOS products would be built on the same architecture as the revamped Delicious, and that definitely seems apparent as you use Zeen.

It’s still very much a beta product, but if you want to curate content from around the Web in an actually-very-nice magazine format, it’s definitely worth signing up to and giving it a try. You just won’t be able to share your magazines with the world… just yet.

 Zeen

Featured image credit: Pond5