Wavii: New Kind Of News Gatherer - InformationWeek
Cloud // Software as a Service
06:43 PM
Connect Directly

Wavii: New Kind Of News Gatherer

Wavii, a new breed of aggregator, gives you news feeds culled from across the Web, from sources far beyond Google News. It also understands your interests and summarizes results.

Imagine being able to follow topics rather than people on social networks. Imagine a Google Alert that arrived because Google actually had some understanding of your interests beyond what can be gleaned from the keywords you provided. That's basically what Wavii, entering open beta testing on Wednesday, makes possible: It offers a way to follow topics or concepts and to receive updates in an automatically generated summary format.

Founded in 2009 by Adrian Aoun, an entrepreneur and former employee of Microsoft and Fox Media Interactive, Wavii provides users with news feeds culled from across the Web that can be accessed via Wavii's website or mobile app. Unlike Google Alerts, these feeds are composed from content beyond Google News. Wavii gathers its information from all over the Web--news, videos, tweets, and beyond--and then attempts to make sense of what it has found using machine learning techniques.

Wavii is not just a pattern-matching system. It recognizes linguistic concepts and that understanding makes its assistance more valuable: Not only is Wavii good at finding information that matches a user's expressed interests but it also concisely summarizes that information. The company has succeeded at a task that other companies haven't managed to do quite as well.

[ Read DARPA Challenge Seeks Robots To Drive Into Disasters. ]

Aoun says that what everyone else has tried to do is model the linguistics using natural language processing technology. "We teach our system the way humans learn," he said in a phone interview.

Aoun describes the processes as similar to the way a child learns, hearing words, attempting to discern patterns, attempting to apply those patterns, and incorporating corrections.

"Our system reads a lot of the Web, then deciphers patterns via machine learning," he said.

Humans play a part in the process of teaching Wavii. They guide the machine learning. During early testing of Wavii, a user who had chosen to receive a feed with information about wedding engagements might have seen a Wavii-generated summary that read "Obama engaged to Ahmadinejad" because Wavii had scanned an article reporting that the U.S. president had been engaged in a heated debate with the Iranian president. The error would have arisen because Wavii hadn't yet figured out, or been instructed to distinguish, the different ways the word "engaged" can be used.

Wavii's capacity to understand, limited though it may be compared to the human brain, may help original reporting stand out from the sea of re-reporting in online news. The service automatically summaries online stories (making it easier to scan headlines) and simultaneously emphasizes original stories over duplicates. According to the company, a single story on average is re-purposed into 126 different articles or blogs. Such dilution may siphon visitor traffic away from the original publisher's website rather than drive traffic to it.

Wavii is also notable for its backers, a number of Silicon Valley venture capitalists with track records and technologists who understand the difficulty of machine learning. Investors include Ron Conway, Aydin Senkut, Mitch Kapor, Mike Arrington, Dave Morin, Shawn Fanning, Keith Rabois, Joshua Schachter, Paul Buchheit, Rick Marini, Max Levchin, and others.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll