Palo Alto Startup Vows Death to Newspapers

Startup wants to aggregate content from organizations it wants to destroy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Yale University considers getting rid of free New York Times subscriptions in its dining halls.

    Hawthorne Labs, a Palo Alto-based startup, has unveiled its Apollo "Newspaper of the Future" application for the Apple iPad that offers customized news from "1000's of publications" to readers.

    The company's humble goal, in its own words, is to "deliver the final blow to the newspaper industry."

    However, one look at the introduction video and you'll see that one of the sources receiving prominent play is the New York Times, which last time anyone checked was still publishing newspapers (and which also tried to block a similar application, Pulse, from competing with the Times's own iPad app.)

    The concept behind the software is to use user feedback as well as algorithms keeping an eye on social networks to offer customized feeds of articles in different subject categories, similar to how websites like Pandora, Amazon and Netflix suggest music, books and movies it thinks users will like.

    The team behind the project includes two engineers with experience at Google News and Microsoft's Bing search engine.

    Certainly impressive pedigrees, and as far as media hacking goes, there is one promising indication -- the video also features appearances by TechCrunch, VentureBeat FastCompany and Silicon Alley Insider -- all publications that might cover a tech startup with world domination goals like, say, Hawthorne Labs.

    Jackson West has been reading about personalized newspapers of the future for at least 15 years now.