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Meet +Sol Lipman the guy behind AOL Editions, your personalized daily magazine on iPad

Reprinted from with permission.

Applications like Flipboard, Zite and News360 have all released applications that allow users to develop personalized online magazines by harnessing the power of tablets as content delivery mechanisms. AOL has recently entered the fray with Editions, its iPad app which aims to serve a slightly different niche in this growing market.

“We take a much more holistic view on news,” explains Sol Lipman, Senior Director of Mobile Team at AOL. “We do a few different things. One is we make it for you once a day—we’re not a real-time application. We’re focused on the morning experience just like you used to read a newspaper. We’re a daily magazine, and we’re very focused on that experience.”

Editions offers top news, local news and personalized news. Top news consists of the most significant stories taking place in the world. For local news, you enter your zip code and the system aggregates content from local sources. And for personalized news, you indicate the sources and subjects that interest you. As news happens, Editions includes those items in your daily magazine. Content is also organized into 15 different sections, like business, entertainment, family and lifestyle. Users can select and organize the sections in any way they choose to create their unique magazine. Each time you use the magazine it becomes even more customized to you.

“You can pick any article,” says Lipman, “and as that article comes up, you’ll see a group of tags at the top of the article. You can say, ‘I like this,’ [or] ‘I don’t like that,’ and [the system] reports that back to us, and we start to take those things into consideration as we’re building the news for you the next day…We also use things that aren’t so explicit. You don’t have to say, ‘I like things,’ or ‘I don’t like things,’ we actually look at what you’re reading too.”

Editions doesn’t have a human editor deciding what news is most important. It uses Diffbot to comb approximately 20 different news sources for every section and pick out stories that each of those sources have in common. For example, if CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews are all reporting about the London riots, Editions will make sure that story is delivered to you.

“We looked at this as an opportunity to really attack a market that is nascent,” explains Lipman, “but is also growing so fast and huge that you want to jump on it. I’ve never seen a device go from early adopter brand new to totally mainstream as fast as the iPad. There’s a bunch of reasons for it, but clearly this is a game that AOL, which is one of the biggest content companies in the world, absolutely had to get into, and we wanted to do it the right way.”

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