Apps / Media

News app Source wants to make reading this article more enjoyable

The mobile app is looking to carve out space as an Instagram for news, with a little Pandora sprinkled in for good measure.

How do you get your news? (Photo by Flickr user Renzo Borgatti, used under a Creative Commons license)

It’s clear that Andrew Lindsey likes a challenge. The #dctech founder (who looks how I imagine a Warby Parker model must) with an angular face under big, stylish frames, is out to change how you read the news. Ho boy.
Lindsey started his first company, Whirl Time Music, when he left college in 2010. The company focused on concert production and promotion, something Lindsey wasn’t exactly an expert in. “I knew nothing about concert promotion,” he admits (emphasis his). But he was up for the challenge, and he learned quickly. Poetically, the impetus for his second (and current) company lies in this learning.
Source (that company) is “a simple social platform that allows people to discover, discuss and share articles in one central place.” Source solves what Lindsey sees as the three main problems in a fractured landscape of news consumption (three problems Lindsey has found prohibitive to his own news reading over the course of the past few years).
First, content clutter — Twitter is a great example of this as the amount of content there can be simply overwhelming. Next, content choice — Lindsey sees the fact that most news aggregators (like Apple News, for example) ask you what kind of stories you like to read up front as a weakness. How is the consumer supposed to know that without some exploration? And finally, the inability for people to voice there opinions. Here Lindsey brings up the social pressure of trying to facilitate a discussion on Facebook (you know, those comment threads).
1776-based Source wants to do all these things better. And that involves a lot of component pieces. All of the content seen in Source comes from the users themselves. As a user you input articles via URL. Users can then “explore” recently added articles and visit the “recommended” tab for stories you might specifically like (Source learns your preferences over time, like Pandora). Source also allows users to save articles for offline reading (like Pocket).

Source. (Screenshot)

Source. (Screenshot)

But perhaps the most distinctive feature of the app is the social component — Source allows users to create custom group discussions around certain articles with the idea that, within that group, no one will need to censor themselves. They’ll finally be able to discuss freely.
Source is out for iOS and Android, and it’s an attractive reading experience. The UI, reminiscent of Instagram, aims to streamline the users’ learning process — no need to find your way around a new layout here. For now the app is free to use, but Lindsey’s got a lot of ideas about a potential business model. Embedded ads, perhaps? Or a freemium model? That’s to come, as well as features like a web platform, article summaries and direct messaging.
For Lindsey, who’s fairly new to tech, the concept of limitless possibilities is exciting. It feels powerful, and a little crazy, he said, to be “building something out of absolutely nothing other than a vague image in my head.”
But who is he building for?
Because sure, I can see the limitation of Facebook and Twitter for article sharing and discovery and yes, I do have email newsletter fatigue and no, I don’t (usually) read actual newspapers any more. But a whole other social app to tend to and spend time with? Ugh.
Source, Lindsey tells me, is best for the heavy reader who wants to do a deep dive. But what does that mean, exactly? And where can Lindsey find these people? “That’s a difficult question,” he says.
Indeed. It’s quite the challenge.

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