What is Serendeputy?
Serendeputy is your personal news assistant, a little robot who learns what you like and pulls together a page of news articles tailored to your specific interests.
Your deputy wants to make your life a little better by always giving you something interesting to read.
It's a little mathier than that, but that's the gist. If you want, you can learn more about how Serendeputy works.
Who's behind Serendeputy?
My name is Jason Butler, and I'm the guy behind this project (which is now a product, and even a company: Serendeputy LLC). I'm a bit of a geek, especially when it comes to information design, software product management, the Sox and the Pats.
I worked off and on for the New York Times Company from 1999 to 2008. Most recently, I was Director of Search and Community Product Development for Boston.com, the website of the Boston Globe.
When working on Boston.com's local search engine, I was fascinated by how people would search for news, and how we would figure out how to get people to the right articles. I had my own difficulties keeping up with the news. My copy of NetNewsWire regularly had unread counts in the 1000s. It was a little depressing, and I wanted a better way.
After mulling it for a long time, I realized I wanted the couple-hundred daily Boston Globe articles to get in a line, ordering themselves by how likely I was to enjoy them. And, the New York Times articles. And the Journal's. And TechCrunch's. And Antonio's. And the Holliston Reporter's.
Ok, so here's the product I wanted: I want a genie to organize all the news stories in the world in a nice straight line so that I could pick and choose what I wanted. I wanted it to be a search for "Me, right now" that returned useful results. And, my wife's list of articles should be sorted entirely differently from mine; we share some interests, but not all. She gets her own list.
And, I don't want to write my own regular-expression rules or fill out endless forms. It should pay attention to me and adjust itself accordingly. It should "just work."
And, it would be really neat if it would occasionally introduce me to stuff I never would have discovered on my own.
(And a pony.)
Sadly, this product didn't exist. But, I wanted it to. So, I decided to write it.
Turns out it's harder than I thought.
But, not impossible. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you ignore constraints (and the occasional law of physics). It took me six months to turn my idea into a prototype, and six more months to turn my prototype into a product. Now, I'm working on turning my product into a business.
I'm not a programmer by trade. I'm a product manager, specializing in interaction design and information architecture. I built this site with a couple of Ruby books and my trusty copy of Emacs (more credits). I'm glad I figured out enough programming to build this, though, because Serendeputy is pretty experimental. I could have never specified what I ended up building (professional developers tend to react poorly to specifications that include the phrase "magic magic magic"). It evolved as I was building it.
That's pretty much the story. This is an attempt to build a personal news assistant that makes your life a little better. I hope you'll give it a try.
What do you think? I adore feedback. The only way I can keep improving Serendeputy is if you tell me what's what. I really appreciate each message, and I'm honored that you'd take some of your time to use my product.
If you're interested in more information, check out how it works and the FAQ. If you're from the press, check out the press kit. I also have some specialized information available for Developers, Advertisers and Publishers.
Where do we go from here?
The battle's done, and we kinda won. It's launched. Now, can it be a successful business?
I don't know yet. My role model on the business side is Craigslist. I'd like to make a dent in the world, in my own little way, and I'm taking it on faith that if I can create something that makes people's lives a little better, then I'll be able to figure out a way to make some money and support my family by doing it. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.
Or, if you want to pay me a few millions dollars, I'm happy to sell you the business and come to work for you. HHOS.
How can I get in touch?
All my contact information is right here: Contact Serendeputy. I'm pretty easy to track down. I'd love to hear from you.