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The Washington Post Pulls a Darwin | Business

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The Washington Post Pulls a Darwin

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that traditional media struggles to find its place in the digital world. Electronic distribution gives people greater choice, and we consume from the publishers that give us the most value—however each one of us personally defines that value. Advertising revenues have followed eyeballs and, over time, newspapers have lost relevance. Now, The Washington Post has pulled a Darwin maneuver by launching a service called Trove.

While I applaud the move, I wonder if it’s going to net the results they seek. The Washington Post has teamed up with Facebook to aggregate and deliver personalized news based on a consumer’s likes and dislikes. That, in itself, makes me uncomfortable.

Perhaps I’m too old school, but I already don’t like the psychographic profiling Facebook does. Profiling doesn’t stop me from using the service, but I am very careful about how I use it. Yes, Facebook supposedly serves better ads because of profiling. Each new feature the company introduces (groups, Trove, etc.) makes their profiling richer. How much more do I really want a service with a reputation for privacy flaws to know about me? Not much.

Does Trove provide a solution people really need? Between Google Reader, Twitter, Yahoo! News, and the companies I’ve ‘liked’ that show up in my Facebook feed, there’s more news than I can consume in a day. And it’s all personally interesting because I’ve taken the time to select it. It’s hard to believe Trove can replace these familiar services. The convenience of aggregation doesn’t overcome my desire for privacy.

At the end of the day, will I try Trove? Probably not. If you do—and like it—please share your experiences. Maybe I’m just being a fuddy-duddy.

By Marcia Moran