Borrowing your brain, your skill, your network

What follows is a draft email message to people in my network. If we know each other, move me to your spam whitelist and expect to receive one of these 🙂


Subject: Borrowing your brain, your skill, your network


I’m on cloud nine at the moment because of the recognition I received from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation’s ‘Uutisraivaaja‘ innovation competition for my idea of a personal news recommendation engine based on on-line social gestures.

257 entries where submitted to the competition. 10 ideas have been selected to the Finals. I will be given 10,000 euros to prepare a presentation of my innovation at the Finals on September 15.

In a nutshell (from my application):

Gestures are ways in which web users respond to the information which they encounter, thereby indicating relevance. Gestures may include: subscribe, read, store, share, tag, rate, copy-share, send, comment, blog, micro-blog, pipe-through, link, approve/reject.

Every gesture contributes to a collective human news filter. The aggregate data can be used to inform a personal news offering to individual users.

For every pair of users in the system, the engine will calculate the proximity of their past gestures.

If user A and user B have a high proximity of past gestures, the next gesture user A will express will be highly relevant to the engine’s recommendation of news and information to user B; and vice versa.

While I’m not yet entirely sure how to go about it, here are some initial thoughts:

  • Create an open source software project which may outlive the duration of the competition;
  • Establish a foundation to manage and support the project and safeguard its open source nature;
  • Engage a Chief Engineer;
  • Engage a Chief Designer;
  • Engage a Chief Evangelist;
  • Engage logistical and other support people;
  • Engage (international) news organizations to sponsor the project;
  • Engage non-commercial organizations in the realm of news and journalism;
  • Engage educational institutions;
  • Explore governmental, non-governmental and philantropical funding;
  • Explore venture capital funding;
  • Build the core technology;
  • Design a compelling web/mobile user interface;
  • Design a convincing demonstration of a common use case scenario;
  • Build a browser plug-in;
  • Launch a web service featuring personal news recommendations;
  • Initiate pilot projects with one or more news organizations;
  • Nurture users and developers;
  • Give sponsors, developers, and anyone else who adds value to the project due credit on the website and elsewhere.

Okay, so why am I writing this to you? Because I’m taking the liberty of borrowing your brain, your skill, your network and/or your money. Specifically:

  1. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when reading all this?
  2. What do you like/dislike about the idea?
  3. What is the best advice you can offer?
  4. How would you go about securing success in the Finals?
  5. How would you budget the 10,000 euros?
  6. (How) would you like to contribute to this project?
  7. To whom would you turn for sponsoring, partnering, funding?
  8. Whom else should we get involved?
  9. Any funding models / business models that I have overlooked?

Any response is highly appreciated, either in the comments or by email to <>.

In case you feel like reading up:

‘Gestures’, my idea for a social news recommendation engine, got further in the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation’s competition!

My submission to Uutisraivaaja #fortherecord

A hierarchy of gestures for the Holy Grail

Booting up a personal recommendation system for news

Transcript of 9 minutes ‘Rebooting the News’, episode 82



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s