One frequent criticism of the French press is the way news tends to be handled exclusively from a French perspective. Now however, My Paperboy makes it easier for a French-speaking, or wider, audience to aggregate and filter articles drawn from the international press.

“It’s not always easy to find your way around in the non-stop flow of information, especially in the international press,” points out Laurent Guilbert, a student at Epitech, the France-based European Institute of Technology. This was the starting point for the MyPaperboy initiative on which Guilbert is the project manager and main web developer. My Paperboy was unveiled at the Epitech Innovative Projects 2013 forum running on 17-19 November, a springboard which has in the past helped to launch such startups as web media network Melty and free e-commerce solution provider Prestashop. Compared with an RSS feed aggregator such as the now-defunct Google Reader, My Paperboy offers “a different take on the news,” explains Laurent Guilbert, adding: “Our project is designed specifically to put news items together and we wanted to be very precise about that.” So this project should be seen not so much a tracking tool as a tool to guide you through the latest news. On the other hand, he stresses, “Our target scope is much wider than such players as [publishing by curation site] Scoop.It!.”

In search of relevance

The MyPaperboy site features an image of a globe, which a visitor may surf to view press articles in the original English. The site thus offers a veritable review of the press by country. Although all the information sources on offer are default settings, the user can nevertheless still filter them to focus only on those s/he finds most interesting. Selection options do not end there either: the reader can further personalise his/her newsfeed by choosing from among a range of topics – politics, sport, etc. BBC News, Euronews and Al Jazeera are of course among the news providers available on the site.  The team is now working on two main areas of development: providing an interface and a selection of French-language articles and also building an algorithm that can assess  how neutral an article is in order to rate its general usefulness.

Beyond aggregation to content analysis on mobile

Pending this latest innovation, the interface offers participative functionality. The user is encouraged to submit his/her opinions regarding the relevance and value of the information s/he has just read. In fact, apart from the first basic information-retrieval phase, the project model is resolutely focused on content analysis. The My Paperboy team are well aware that most readers will not always have sufficient time to cope with the huge amount of information on offer at once. They have therefore integrated functionality which allows the user to read the selected articles at a later time, in a similar way to what used to be the ‘Read It Later’ platform, now re-named Pocket. In addition, the website, which is still under development, will soon be available on mobile devices. It will be offered via iOS and Android apps and in a Responsive Web Design version so as to make it as convenient as possible for the reader.

By Pierre-Marie Mateo