Collaborate on content – now available on feeds

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Content curation is best done in teams – and Cronycle now has a new way to empower teams to collaborate on content with feeds.

Leverage the collective intelligence

Talking with our customers, we found that collaboration, and in particular leveraging a team’s or organization’s collective intelligence, is great for several reasons (that can happen simultaneously):

In all cases, having more eyes on the news is a good way to avoid blindspots.

Collaboration in Cronycle so far

Cronycle has always been about collaboration. So far, this mostly happened:

What’s new in Cronycle with collaborative feeds

Now, we also empower teams to collaborate on content with feeds:

Collaborate on your feeds: 
Invite contributors, 
Everyone can edit sources and filters,
Viewing preferences remain personal,
Only the feed owner can delete

To make a feed collaborative, you simply invite others to join you to an existing feed, using the “Collaborators” button on the feed itself.

It prompts you to add collaborators who are currently in your organization, or to invite new members by email (if you have the rights).

Invite others to collaborate on your feed

Now that I added Vishal to my feed, he can view the content, and also modify the keyword filters, collaborators and sources. As the feed owner, I am the only one to have the possibility to make this feed public and to delete it. Everything else is shared.

We can also decide on a common default board to pin to, as a team. This way, every content we save will automatically go to that common board in one click (exceptions are allowed). To do that, simply set a default board to pin to, and all feed contributors will get the same default. They will also be added as contributors to the board if they are not yet.

Setting a default board to pin to on a collaborative feed

As a result, you empower your team to collaborate on content with Cronycle feeds, as well as through the complete workflow of content discovery, curation, organization and publishing. The team members can collectively keep an eye on news, either sharing the load, or bringing their own judgement to the same content.

Curate from your source library

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Cronycle feeds aggregate content from several sources, combining RSS (a standard for sharing web links), Twitter handles (web links shared on Twitter by these handles) and Cronycle Topics (our own automated curated feeds). This article is about our new tutorial for advanced mode for this aggregation: how to curate from your source library.

In Cronycle, there are indeed several ways to create a feed aggregating sources:

  • From the Create Feed option in Feeds: easy mode recommended if you are relatively new to Cronycle and to curation.
  • From the library of sources: our advanced mode, described here.
  • For Cronycle Topics only: search any Topic in the top search bar or on the Discovery page.
Click or tap on Manage all Sources to access the source library discussed here

When should I curate from the source library?

There are different cases when you may want to use the source library:

  • You imported or want to import a large amount of sources, either via an OPML (if you came from another aggregator) or a connected Twitter account. The library is where the results of the import will appear and where you’ll be able to build feeds.
  • Your team shares sources: read more on how to manage sources collaboratively.
  • Over time, you have manually added a large amount of sources, and reached a point where a spring clean is welcome

What does the source library do?

Cronycle’s source library lists all the sources you have added in feeds and imports. It also lists the Cronycle Topics you are currently using. You can add and remove sources, search and filter the listed sources, create feeds to read, and folders to further organize your sources.

A source library in Cronycle

How to use the source library?

Our tutorial here explains how to:

  • Find the sources I am looking for in the library?
  • Add more sources to my library?
  • Remove sources?
  • Create feeds from sources in the library?
  • Use folders? (and what they are)

We’ll keep you posted!

We are currently working on a new view for folders, to let you view and modify them. Stay tuned:

Collaborate on sources for your content curation

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This post is about how to collaborate on sources when doing curation as a team. Cronycle has a unique feature – Source Pooling – that allows just that for Twitter and RSS sources, as well as Cronycle Topics. It is available with our Enterprise plan.

Why collaborate on sources?

A team collectively curating content can share sources for several reasons. Here are a few:

  • Share the load of scanning for relevant news: ensuring there is no duplication of work
  • Read the same content to have same information for discussions and decisions
  • Help junior or non expert team members get to quality content efficiently
  • Share good sources relevant to another team member’s focus – this was the case for our customer Taylor & Francis

If you use it (or consider doing it) for other reasons, let us know. It can help us improve our solution!

What does source pooling do?

Cronycle users who collaborate together are grouped in worspaces which we call “Organizations”. Within an Organization, team members share several work items: sources, feeds, boards, publishing, tags and contacts (for sending newsletters).

When sources are shared, all users within the Organization can see all the sources of all the contributors. If Vijay adds a source, Kate will see it. And vice versa. Before you take the decision to share sources, you may want to consult your team.

Cronycle users primarily build feeds using sources. There are two ways to do that: either from the feeds (easy mode), or from the library of all sources (advanced mode). In this second case, team members can see the amount of feeds the source is used in, and filter by user who added. Soon, we will add more information for each source (total number across the Organization, list of the feeds and their owners, who added and when).

Each team member can then use the sources they and others added to create custom feeds. They can also discuss how best to structure feeds as a team. Note that we are also working on a separate feature to make feeds shared across several team members. More on that soon!

Note that we don’t allow to share newsletter subscriptions, they remain personal.

How to collaborate on sources?

One needs to be invited by an organization admin to join and work collaboratively on sources, feeds, boards and sources. For Enterprise accounts, this happens on the Admin Console, in the Users page.

When you have taken the decision to start pooling sources, go to the Admin Console. Under Resources, select Sources. There is a simple switch to enable and disable source pooling.

Switch on Source pooling to collaborate on sources for your content curation

Depending on the amount of sources across the organization, loading the whole source library could take a little longer. This is particularly true if you connected a twitter account with a lot of followees, or large OPML files with many RSS links.

Now, go to your Source Library (click on Feeds, and then Manage All Sources in the bottom left). You will see that the source pooling switch is also available on this page.

Collaborate on sources for your content curation from the library of all sources

And that’s it: in the source table above, you can see all the sources from your organization, ready for you to build feeds. We will update this post soon, as we will release changes to make it easier to manage large amounts of sources within a team. To stay tuned:

Introducing an easy way to aggregate content

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Content curation requires the aggregation of several sources within a single view that can be easily scanned. In Cronycle you can aggregate content in Feeds. Applying filters on top of this content aggregation helps information workers organise incoming content in a particularly relevant manner. Cronycle also lets you save, organize, and publish content (check our product page if you are not familiar yet).

What sources does Cronycle aggregate?

For each feed, you can collect content from different sources: RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Twitter handles (we retrieve links shared) and our own Cronycle Topics.

You can also subscribe to your favourite newsletters and have them delivered in a specific feed.

How does it work?

Today, we have just updated the way in which you create feeds: it is now easier to collect several sources into one feed, from the Feeds page. Simply click on Create Feed (top left) in our Webapp. (Our iOS app works in a very similar fashion too).

This opens a full screen interface dedicated to creating your feed, so you can concentrate on this task. You can see suggested or trending Topics, Curated Feeds from your own organization (if you have a team in Cronycle), and the possibility to subscribe to newsletters. And at the top, you can search any subject you are interested in.

You can preview the kinds of articles coming from each source to check the quality and relevance of the source. Once you decide a source is good to add to your feed, simply click on the plus icon. You can select several sources. They appear in the right frame, as seen below:

Once you have a good set of sources, you can click on Done, name your feed, confirm… and see the resulting feed which aggregates the content. Note that you cannot add more than 5 Cronycle Topics (our automated feeds) per feed.

Achieve better relevance

You can make your feeds aggregate content with even more focus and relevance by adding your own keywords to include or exclude, or by switching to advanced mode for boolean operations.

Curate Google Alerts in Cronycle

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Cronycle lets you integrate the widest range of sources, including Google Alerts into feeds.

Feeds are used as a starting point for your information workflow. Other sources you can use to create feeds include RSS feeds, Twitter handles, newsletters, and our own automated Topics. (Note that you can also also add files on boards.)

This posts explains how to create a Google Alert and add it to Cronycle.

Step 1 – Create a Google Alert

First, in Google Alerts, create an alert for the subject you are interested in. You will see it in your list of alerts, such as Artificial Intelligence Ethics in this example:

You can use common syntax elements to shape these alerts, such as + to include content with several words, – to do exclusions, “or” to have several options, “quotes” for specific expressions, etc. Read more about more tricks to optimise your Alert here.

Step 2 – Generate an RSS link from your Google Alert

Click on the pen of the Google Alert you want to follow to show the settings. Select RSS feed in the last option to deliver the alert to.

Save to update the alert. Now, when you hide the options, you will see an RSS icon by the alert. Right click to copy the destination link – a fully working RSS feed URL.

Step 3 – Add the Google Alert in Cronycle

Now, you are ready to add this RSS link to Cronycle. In Feeds, click on Manage All Sources (bottom left).

Paste the link in the input field to add new sources: as soon as the alert is loaded, press on the + icon to save it to your source library. It appears in the list of sources, at the top.

Paste the Google Alert RSS URL in the Add new sources field and add

Next, you probably want to create a feed to see content flowing in from that Google Alert. You can select one or several sources, of different kinds if you want (Twitter handles, RSS, Google Alerts, Topics). Click on “Create Feed” to build your own custom feed.

Select the Google Alert(s) and any other source to group into a feed

You can also start adding keywords to further refine your feed. From there, you can pin interesting content to boards and continue the workflow all the way to publishing.

The resulting feed. A keywords adds more relevance.

Step 4 – Try a smart alternative: Cronycle Topics

While you can do the above to use your current set up, know that we have an alternative to Google Alerts, which we call Cronycle Topics. Our mission is to help you gain time by surfacing relevant content. You can search and preview Topics easily in the Discovery section in Cronycle, or from Add/Create Feeds.

We identify thought leaders, or influencers, per Topic. They are ranked in terms of influence within the community of the Topic, so we are confident they bring value to the discussion. We look at what these influencers share about the topic on Twitter to surface important and relevant content. You can read more about how this works on this post from Vishal, our CEO.

Explore Topics, here with the list of influencers

You can add one to five Topics per feed, and add keywords within Cronycle to you can get content at the intersection of some of our 50k Topics and another dimension.

Feed with 1 Topic (Artificial Intelligence) and ethics / ethical as keyword filters

You can also limit the influencers to take in consideration, by deactivating them individually, and/or by selecting a range.

In feed settings, filter by influencers

To try all this, create an account for free, which gives you all the power of a pro account for 28 days. No credit card required!

Start to curate in Cronycle: import OPML

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You can easily start to curate content using Cronycle: we let you import the standard file (OPML) from feed aggregators, import your Twitter contacts (Pro Trial, Pro & Enterprise plans only), get suggestions based on your Twitter activity and/or search for RSS feeds, Twitter handles and our automatically curated feeds on 50k Topics. We even have a Chrome and Safari extension to save single pieces of content or to grab RSS. This is an important start in our end-to-end workflow, to let you curate, organize and publish content.

This post is about importing OPML.

How to import sources using an OPML file

RSS aggregators let you export sources as an OPML file. This is a standard file format that consists of a list with structure and links. In the case of Feedly, the OPML file groups sources together, by feed.

In Cronycle, we have a source library to import and manage sources (in Feeds, find “Manage all sources” to the bottom left).

When you import an OPML file, you will see that all the sources appear in a list. Also, if you want to keep the same feed structure as in Feedly, you can filter sources by folder, select all, and click on Create Feed.

Then, you can name the feed, add or remove sources, and even start to add keyword filters. Save, and your feed is ready to check through!

A little work about source pooling…

Our Enterprise plan includes a unique functionality: the ability to pool sources across your organisation. All curators and admins within the organisation can see the same sources and build feeds.

We’ll soon have more news on this space, as we’ll make it more collaborative…

Receive your favourite newsletters in Cronycle

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We have some news in Feeds! You can now curate newsletters too.

Cronycle Feeds already lets you curate content from RSS feeds, Twitter handles and our own Cronycle Topics – Dynamic relevant feeds across 50k topics automatically curated from top influencers.

Now, you can receive all your newsletter subscriptions in a dedicated feed, so all your content can be collected in the same tool, ready to be filtered, selected, organised, enriched and published.

How does it work?

First, in Cronycle, go to Feeds. Click on Add Feeds. Near the bottom of the pop-up window, you will see a section called “Subscribe to newsletters”. Click on “Start Now”.

Simply copy the email address provided and use it to subscribe to your newsletters. You can close the pop-up.

As soon as the first email will be received, you will see a new feed in your feed list, named “Newsletters”. Note that this can take a couple of days, depending on the pace of your subscriptions. This is where all your issues will be collected, as well as address confirmation emails (so don’t forget to check it out!).

As an alternative, for subscriptions you already have, you can also auto-forward to the email address we provide from most email applications.

Currently, if you want to curate a link from a newsletter issue, you need to open the original content. From there, you can use our Content Clipper extension (available on Chrome and Safari) to save it to a board, where you can organise, enrich and publish.

Did you know? You can also easily create and send your own newsletters from your curated content, within Cronycle. Learn more here.

Cronycle Topics & Influencer Communities

Reading Time: 2 minutesCronycle is an information workflow application, powered by Right Relevance (subsidiary of Cronycle), which is a topical information search and relevance platform. Topics and Influencers (per topic) form the backbone of the search and relevance technology.

    1. Topics (over 50 thousand) including metadata like related topics & semantics like synonyms, acronyms.
  1. Topical influencers (over 2.5M) with score and rank.

Topics are identified by algorithmically mining over 10M unstructured documents on the web and leveraging Wikipedia and Right Relevance topical graph neighborhood techniques. Relationships and semantics are derived from this process with manual corrections and injections for the last mile.

Topical Influencers mining is fully algorithmic and primarily graph based. The methodology leverages ML, semantic analysis and NLP on unstructured data at scale and involves a 2-level proprietary people rank (custom page rank for social graphs):

Stage 1. Global PR to reduce a ~300M nodes graph to ~6M (for now) globally ranked influencers. This is a first level reduction and we don’t expose the scores. It doesn’t have topical context.

Stage 2. Graph partitioning of the ~6M connected nodes from stage 1 across our ~50K structured topic space using unstructured data assigned to each node. This leads to ~50K per topic sub-graphs, where a secondary PR is applied to determine the topic score for each node in each topical sub-graph. This secondary PR score is normalized to calculate the Right Relevance topic score and rank influencers for every structured topic in our platform. 

Our custom PR algorithm is derived from google pagerank but is specialized for social graphs (instead of links/webpages) with many important differences applicable to social networks.

The RightRelevance score of an expert/influencer for a TOPIC represents the authority within the topical community say for e.g. ‘machine learning’ of that influencer. This measure of influence per topic is termed as ‘topical influence’ and the topical communities formed are termed as “Tribes“.

Once we have the scored and ranked influencers’ community for a particular topic (e.g. machine learning, behavioral science, big data, emergency medicine, oil and gas, angularjs,  social media marketing etc.) we mine the web for content. The numeric influence from topics and influencers is inductively applied to this content for measuring relevance and forms a critical part of the search. We download ~600K articles daily from ~2M websites every month. Topical content and information are available in the form of articles, videos and conversations.

Points to note:

    • We dampen followers count, tweet count etc. noisy signals and lay much more focus on the topical network itself.
  • Each influencer can be part of multiple topical sub-graphs aka communities and have a different score, and rank, within each. This is exposed in our apps via scored tags.
  • Other, non structured, topics work via free-form search but the relevance may not be of the same quality. This can be seen by the score ’10’, which, probably poorly done, means we didn’t find a community for the topic.

Both topics and influencer graphs are mined and built algorithmically at scale with ever-increasing quality after every iteration.

Why the Rise of State Media Requires Savvy Reading

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Painting of Edmund Burke MP c. 1767, studio of Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) Wikimedia Commons

The Fourth Estate, in 1787, was an embodiment of the ‘speak truth to power’ mantra. “[Edmund] Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all,” as Thomas Carlyle wrote. Burke, pictured above, would never have seen the radio, the television, or the blog, but the principle of a free, impartial, and rigorous press has long stood as part of the democratic school of thought nevertheless.
330 years later, events show that the pen and the sword are not equally matched. Reporters face harassment, threats, or death in pursuit of their duties, even in democracies. The murder of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh is only the latest example of this trend. The image of the journalist as watchkeeper has been replaced by that of the journalist as impediment – something to be trampled over if it gets in the way of populist progress. In dictatorships and under military juntas, the ability to strike at members of the press with impunity is now viewed as routine.

And an equally pernicious trend is the attempt to blur the line between state and mass media: an approach to power perhaps best known from the dictatorships of the 20th century, given new life in the 21st.

The state media today is a far more sophisticated machine because there are more avenues of attack. The USSR’s replied upon newspapers like Pravda – a former journal of arts which would gain its political character under Leon Trotsky – and broadcasting stations including Radio Moscow, coupled with heavy censorship of both local and foreign journalists. These politics of exclusion sought to keep a strict lock on what could be accessed.

The astonishing lack of trust in the news media has done away with the need for a hermetic seal on news, allowing state-sponsored news to fill the gap with a variety of techniques. Sputnik, for example, apes Western media with its delight in viral headlines and emojis – but its bald pro-Russian stance makes it an unsubtle tool. RT (formerly Russia Today), its big brother has proven a somewhat more skilled player: in addition to its wild-eyed columnists, it has featured such noteworthy figures as Noam Chomsky, developing credibility. It has also experimented with less explicitly state-led channels for foreign markets: Agence2Presse (a clear take on APF’s full name), a Front National supporting news outfit in the vein of The Gateway Pundit, is the second iteration of ProRusseTV (many of whose former journalists have gravitated to Sputnik or RT). The use of French journalists for a French audience – and the removal of any Russian state branding – don’t mean that the influence from the Kremlin is diminished.

Social media has offered another outfit altogether. On the anniversary of the abortive coup in Turkey, TRT World (a part of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) used its social media feeds to push out a distinctly pro-government message. Its message was delivered via slick videos, which had an added bonus – allowing users to respond. A quick scroll through found the majority of responses were strongly in support of Erdogan. Whether or not this simply reflected TRT’s readership is difficult to ascertain; what is more obvious is that TRT does not explicitly show its ties to the Turkish government.

Turkish protests in support of Erdogan in the wake of the 2016 coup d’etat attempt                                 Mstyslav Chernov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51156155

And then there is the case of the bot – the ‘fake’ user, a profile rigged to blurt out things in support of or against a given candidate (with the potential for manual control as well). The Russian botnets I discussed last week are a particularly noteworthy example of this because they are so visible: they have targeted Western institution, and as a result have been exposed by Western think tanks and journalists. But studies on this ‘computational propaganda’ suggest it’s hardly a Kremlin secret – it’s simply that in many other countries, it is designed with a domestic audience in mind. The presence of these bots in Venezuela, for example, is little remarked upon both because of their relatively limited numbers and their lack of interference with Western geopolitics: nevertheless, they act as force multipliers for the Maduro government, creating an illusion of grater support.

This all feels a bit grim, especially as President Donald Trump seems keen to follow this route. Lara Trump’s Trump TV resembles Sputnik the most in its on-the-nose style of propaganda. Whilst it’s unlikely to gain new converts, even stabilising support from an existing audience – and further encouraging them to disbelieve non-state-affiliated media – is an achievement of sorts. Whilst it lacks the commonly seen underpinning of a party structure(in favour of a support for a demagogic leader), there’s certainly a case to be made for Trump TV being a kind of proto-state media.

It would be unfair to say that all state media exists purely for propaganda purposes – Al Jazeera’s reporting (when it doesn’t come to Qatar) is very high quality; the BBC, in spite of its many flaws, represents a gold standard in editorial independence. And yet, no matter how free they are from state interference, these institutions are inextricably linked into a form of soft, cultural power. Nor are non-state actors inherently agenda free: the objective press is a myth after all. The peculiar problem of the state media in the age of rising populism is the tendency to violence under illiberal governments, and the role propaganda plays in both legitimising and downplaying it.

Under more benevolent rulers, the question of how to fight it remains. There have been suggestions to bar state media channels from broadcast, but regulations fail to solve the underlying problems (and you can’t regulate every state media website). The only way to fight it is to have an engaged citizenry which can recognise the signs of propaganda, and treat it with the scepticism which it deserves.