A deep dive into how Contextly works and how it is an antidote to scammy recommendation services.
Maybe this says something about the state of these respective industries or maybe not, but today two Wired editors (one print, one digital) announced their departures to work full time at their respective start-ups. This afternoon, after more than 10 years at the helm, Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson announced he was leaving the company to work at his 3D robotics company, DIY Drones. That follows this morning's news that Ryan Singel, editor of the blog Threat Level, will leave to work on his start-up Contextly, as The Next Web's Ken Yeung reported.
Ryan Singel, the co-founder and editor of this blog, is leaving us Friday after 10 years writing for Wired.com. He’s moving on to focus on his start-up, Contextly, which among other things powers the nifty “Related Links” box at the bottom of every Wired.com story.
Ryan co-founded Threat Level in 2006 with Kevin Poulsen, the blog’s first editor. Originally known as 27bstroke6, this was Wired’s first news blog, and it continues tackling security, privacy, crime and intellectual property in the online world.
During his tenure as writer, and then editor, Threat Level received a gaggle of awards and recognitions, from Webby Awards to twice being named in Time Magazine’s Top 25 list of blogs.
Contextly, which Ryan founded more than a year ago, is a San Francisco startup providing websites and blogs with tools to help them show off their best content to readers, and increase page views and the number of views per reader. In addition to Wired, the company’s clients include Cult of Mac and Wall St. Cheat Sheet.
Contextly, a startup founded by former Wired editor Ryan Singel, looks to contextualize online news for readers. Their tools will help readers stay abreast of developing stories and suggest content that deepens their engagement with both the website and their topics of interest.
The young company is launching two products today, the Living Sidebar and the Read More Box. Singel says that they are designed by journalists for journalists. Now, that doesn't sound like a recipe for user-focused innovation on paper, but anything that makes reporters' — hi there — job easier will likely result in a better experience for their readers.
What is Contextly?
Contextly is a related links service that displays links to a publisher’s other great content in a widget at the bottom of a story and in sidebars in the body of a story. We help sites show off the depth and the breadth of their content to readers of individual articles. This keeps readers reading, instead of leaving the site to go check Facebook again.
Publishers live in the age of drive-by readers who click on a link in Reddit or Twitter or Facebook and then read an article and leave, often without even realizing what site they were on. That means the individual article page becomes even more important than ever, both for generating more page views and for building a brand.
Our aim is to hit a trifecta — being good for readers, for writers and for publishers.
Well, there goes another tech journalist with the startup bug.
Ryan Singel, editor of Wired’s security blog Threat Level, told me that today is his last day on the job, because he’s leaving to run his startup Contextly. Over the past decade, Singel has held various reporting and editing roles at Wired — apparently he helped start Threat Level back in 2006, and I got to know him few years later, when he was writing for the site’s Epicenter business blog.
For the past ten years, Threat Level editor at Wired, Ryan Singel had been involved in nearly everything a writer is exposed to in the business. He’s discovered that transparency and privacy matter and that tools are needed in order to help writers manage being their “own editors, photo desk, and publicist”. His solution? To leave Wired and create Contextly, an editorial tool created by digital journalists for journalists – and it’s launching today in beta mode.
If you write a lot online, you know how hard it can be to find your own stories on related subjects and link them back up to the latest news.
Contextly hopes to change that.
It's the brainchild of Ryan Singel, editor of Wired's Threat Level blog, who wanted to solve two problems: "drive-by readers" who only read one story and the frustration that many writers have when algorithms dictate related stories.