How do you summarize a long interview with the head of Google Ventures? How about a post-earnings letter by Apple? When I’m writing news, I tend to splice together long paragraphs and hire a professional blogger to lay out all the relevant stories, including details I’d rather not share. But suppose you’re an editor reviewing a reporting intern’s copy to help them advance their careers and you’re looking for an all-encompassing summary. Your search could soon get a lot smarter with startup Wordflow.
Wordflow does this by analyzing your drafts to find the most pertinent information and embedding it in snippets that resemble CalCalm and Jump summary widgets for third-party websites. The format spares you from having to enter every detailed paragraph, letting you easily flick from one to the next instead of diving deeper with different cover stories.
The startup is part of a new batch of startups in Y Combinator’s Winter 2020 batch. And Wordflow provides some competitors, including Smart Deep Web and Copyery. Plus, there are tons of aggregation tools available out there like aggregators for blogs, online forums, and conference slide decks.
But none of them are all-in-one mindfully crafted summaries or social dashboards. Wordflow tries to specialize and only lets you access and share summaries which you can annotate with your own analysis. Each word is coded, which means depending on how long it takes to write, the summary could get longer or shorter.
[Update: Wordflow also operates under a podcast meta-interface so you can edit a summary and share it and hear on more browsers. Moreover, its smart summary and synthesis know the difference between synonyms and end-of-sentence, so your summary is a little less like a grunt-filled BuzzFeed article.]
That said, so far I haven’t seen much of a problem with Wordflow. For one thing, I was able to get through reading the lengthy commutations for every man sentenced to death in Egypt, a matter of many weeks. The resulting summary was very accessible, keeping a brief flow of information for readers to dip into without feeling rushed. The closed Facebook comment section also makes it possible to read the first word of a sentence as the commenter chooses, so unlike Slashdot or Techmeme, you can finish your summary without hitting the “Save” button. Wordflow won’t beat blogs for pure story consumption, but it can help journalism through summarization.
“What we’re not about is Wikipedia, or Applescribers, or any of those things,” Wordflow co-founder Jiranathan Venkatasubramanian tells me. “We believe in being a, we believe in being the first language online”. So Wordflow seems to fit the populist zeitgeist of sharing the slow news.
Ideally, people would use Wordflow to dive into intense articles written by smart students and journalists or select narrative summaries of important court cases. Until then, it can be great for Slack conversations to share short insights for longer conversations, YouTube videos, or digital marketing materials.
As more mobile and cloud delivery of content proliferates, click-abroad tendencies will continue to boost the value of creating compelling summaries.
But once Wordflow can aggregate all sorts of important articles, I’d love to see the startup also add premium subscriptions with features like GIFs, transcription, text to speech, annotation, and background music and background images for sdan.io/summary. Or maybe an editor could get payments and premium access. Perhaps it’s time to let interns have access to Internet professional mastery training.