COOL TOOLS: SUMMLY

 

summly1In my previous life as a political advisor, I was a news addict.  By this, I mean the television was tuned to CBC Newsworld, CPAC, or CNN from dawn until dusk, I read 2 newspapers, and skimmed the media service clippings for stimulating tidbits every single day. Without fail.

I lived and breathed in news cycles, and compared to now, I was eminently informed regarding current events. Nothing went by without me noticing, and I could even tell you when a pundit or news anchor had been to see their barber/hairstylist.

Due to my daily news habit, I was able to intuit electoral outcomes and speculate about cabinet shuffles with the best of them.  Ask me back then, and I could have told you ahead of time why we nearly lost Quebec in the referendum, or when the Prime Minister might make a major decision.

I even went so far as to wager (informally, of course) on major news stories – sometimes winning (no, Bill Clinton would not be impeached) and sometimes losing – (alas, Al Gore did not “officially” beat George Bush in the election).  Too bad too, I lost ten bucks on that one…

In retrospect, I must have been a real treat to eat with!  Good grief, how annoying!

Times have changed since then.  While I still love the news, it plays a far less significant role in my professional life, and I no longer live or breathe it.  Instead, I squeeze in an occasional peek at the Saturday morning paper, hear snippets on the radio while driving, or cruise through my social media feeds to see what’s on the radar of those most relevant to me.   Even though I’d be less boisterous about it than I once was,  I do admit, sometimes I wish I was better informed about the important stuff.

So, imagine my delight when I heard (on the car radio) about SUMMLY.  For a geek girl/reformed info-junkie like me, it was big news indeed!

SUMMLY is an IPhone app which summarizes news items into short, 400-500 word paragraphs.  Stories come from hundreds of local, national, and international sources, and can be searched and organized by keyword.  The interface itself is ‘state of the art’, with most commands being activated with a swipe, and sharing to social networks made simple.  Best of all, if you’re inclined to read a full article in detail, SUMMLY links you directly to the original source.

Interestingly, what makes this app so unique is the algorithms it uses to create the news summaries.  Rather than clunky ‘robotic’ results, SUMMLY uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing technologies (among others) to create  sentences structured the way we speak.  This makes these summaries particularly easy to read.

In a very short time, this start-up company has attracted significant investments from some very high-rollers, including Hollywood actor/angel investor Ashton Kutcher, AirBnB founder Brian Chesky, original WordPress developed/Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg, artist/musician Yoko Ono, and many more.

SUMMLY launched this past November, and had more than 500,000 users sign up within the first four weeks. Word is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is already circling the start-up with the possible intention to buy.

Oh, and did I mention it’s creator/founder is a boy-genius?  Nick D’Alosio is only 17.

I am such a sucker for stories like these.

Images sourced via SUMMLY 

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