A quick note: I’m refactoring the entire premise of The Storyline in my spare time. I’ll be folding all of this work and the product into my LLC, Forche Software. Because this is a side project, it’s going to take a few months to get done. Until I can push that back live, I’ve put the web site into maintenance mode and shut down the news ingest services. In essence, the app is disabled for now.
More at Fatmixx if you’re interested in details. This will be the last time we use this blog to talk about Storyline. Please follow the Forche or my personal account on Twitter for news on the product.
I’m sorry to announce that we’re winding down VarioLabs as a standalone company. This is a tough call. My co-founder Pat has had a personal issue come up that requires his focus, and so he had to drop out. While we’ve made some good progress and had encouraging conversations with several potential customers, I’ve decided against going forward alone.
We’re working out a way to keep The Storyline alive. There will be a few changes coming next week to simplify the product, then I will keep it running as part of Forche Software.
If you’re curious about what’s next for me, I’ll have a post up on my personal blog soon. You can also follow me on Twitter for details.
We really appreciate the support you’ve all shown us over the last 6 months. While we didn’t hit our goals, we wouldn’t have accomplished as much as we did without it. Thank you.
Time for another update about The Storyline. We’ve been really happy with the initial interest in the beta. Thanks everyone who has signed up. For a number of reasons, we’ve only let in a few folks. In part, we wanted to be able to interact one-on-one with folks we identified as possible customers. We also had a LOT of rough edges that we didn’t have time to file away. We got to the point where we said “F*** it, ship it!” (hat tip to the News.me team for that quote)
I’m glad we did. We’ve gotten some great feedback and have been iterating both on the core algorithms that make the site work as well as the user experience and tools. There’s still a ton to do, but it’s starting to come together pretty nicely.
Short version: we’re going to be adding the next batch of beta users in starting later today. I expect that folks that have signed up already will all be in by some time next week. Thanks for your patience. It will be rewarded soon.
When you do get in, please use the feedback button at the bottom of the site. We’re working hard to track every suggestion that comes in via that tool and our internal task tracker. That’s the best way to get us feedback. Thanks again!
I know a lot of our friends are curious about what we’re working on, so here’s our latest update.
Our product is called The Storyline. Our first beta milestone consists of a web-based news aggregator that’s a little Techmeme and a little Google News. For this beta period, our goal is to make sure all the work and testing we’ve done on the aggregation works for other people. Over the following weeks, we’ll be rolling out the rest of the launch feature set every few days, getting feedback, and fixing bugs. Long term, our goal is to let communities build their own aggregators in a collaborative way, curating sources and annotating stories together.
Those of you that have known more details about our plan will recognize that we’ve changed things up. Our original plan was to launch directly on the iPad with a web-based counterpart (think Instagram or Path). As we’ve gotten further into this, a web application made more sense for our minimum viable product. The iPad app is still sitting on our devices here, but we’re going to wait a couple of iterations before we finish & release it. Our focus now is on getting the aggregation right and the collaboration dead simple, and the best way to do that is to ship, get feedback, and iterate.
The core of our system is now working as we expected, so we’re going to turn to our friends, families, and our beta testers to keep us moving forward. I’m happy we’re finally here.
Private beta starts now!
If you’re interested in helping us out, please sign up at http://the.storyline.is.
It’s been a few months of radio silence since I started VarioLabs. As we get closer to our next milestone, I wanted to talk a little about what we’re working on.
We started this company in the hope of making a lasting change to the way news is produced. Both Pat & I are heavy duty news consumers. We’re interested in politics and we care about understanding policy. We also find it too hard at most news sites to explore issues or follow stories we’re interested in. Too often news is organized to maximize clicks, not information. That’s why you see a proliferation of click-friendly slide shows and headline friendly stories with little depth.
So, our goal is make it easier to get caught up on the important stories of the day quickly while giving the reader the option to go deep on any news story. We have a bunch of ideas about helping journalists, bloggers, and readers all work together to create the best jumping off point for any news story. We also have a few ideas on how to get people to pay for news again. We’re taking on some hard problems, but the payoff, we hope, is getting more good journalism in front of even more people by making it easier to access, more useful to the reader, and more sustainable for the journalists & bloggers.
We’ll be taking the first phase of our app into a closed, friends-and-family only beta very, very soon. We’ll collect feedback, improve the product, and repeat until we feel like we’ve nailed the core features. If all goes well, we’ll expand the beta to an open beta in January. Our app is targeted for iOS (iPad first) and web. We’ll have more to share soon.