Sensational titles and a chaotic website design have kept me from ever making the Huffington Post part of my digital routine. But a new site from the Huffington Post has changed that and may provide a view into the future of online publishing.
HuffLabs, a “innovation division” of the Huffington Post, has launched a new page called HuffPost Highlights. The page has a masonry look (think Pinterest) that spotlights quotes or portions of text that Huffington Post readers have either copied in their brower or have selected using Huffington Post’s highlight tool.
A number of online services have tried to popularize collecting or highlighting of interesting articles or quotes by subject (Snip.it is the one I use most frequently), but this experiment by the Huffington Post is the best put together I have seen with the caveat that is it from one publisher.
Jeopardy style news reading.
In a way similar to Jeopardy, where you are given you the question before the answer, Highlight gives you the most popular part of the article (essentially a quote) before you ever see the title. I an not sure this style of discovery is for everyone, but I enjoy it.
It also surfaces what readers think is compelling, versus what one editor decides should be the title to catch the reader’s eye.
I find myself reading the quote, which often has enough context on its own to understand it, and then if I find it compelling enough, I will look at the article title and then sometimes click through and read the article.
Why is Huffington Post doing this
The advantage to the publisher is pointed out by Conor White-Sullivan, director of HuffPost Labs. He told Poynter that:
We wanted to find and expose the buried ledes, the interesting quotes, paragraphs, or snippets of data in articles, and create a new way for users to browse the content on a news site, and discover articles that may have not been featured, but that they may find interesting…
Breaking the personalized news bubble
Like many of us, I live in a personal news vacuum. I get the majority of my industry specific news from Zite, my Twitter follows are highly curated based on my interests and my Facebook feed also is based on my existing relationship and what I like.
The Huffington Post has a certain political and news perspective, but it is broader than the one I have created with personalized social networks and news services. So while I am still getting a selective perspective when using Highlight, it is broader than what I am used to, and does provide a more well rounded view of news.
A new way to view and display content
I can certainly see developers use this technology on other sites, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this type of news feed become a common alternative both for aggregated news across multiple sites as well as a different user interface for many online publications.
I would be interested to hear what you think of Highlights. Feel free to post a comment.