Google’s internal incubator Area 120 debuted Keen for web and Android. Keen co-founder CJ Adams stated that the app acts as a curator for topics and is intended to be an alternative to “mindlessly” browsing feeds. A “keen,” which can be about any topic, said Adams, allows the user to collect content and share it with others. In essence, Keen is proposed as a rival to Pinterest and any other social media feed that customizes its content for individual users. Similar to Pinterest, Keen also uses a pinboard-style design.
The Verge reports that Keen’s competitive edge is “Google’s expertise in machine learning.” “Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can start curating a keen and save a few interesting ‘gems’ or links that you find helpful,” Adams said. “These bits of content act like seeds and help Keen discover more and more related content over time.”
The Verge notes that, “while machine learning’s ability to find patterns in data outstrips that of humans in many areas … the collective intuitions of a big and engaged … userbase will outstrip those of the machines for the time being.”
It also notes that Google “has never been able to break into the social space, a venue of online activity that generates scads of lucrative data for targeting ads.” Keen could let Google “hone-in on users’ interests and gather this information,” which could be “collated with everything else Google knows about users.”
“It’s interesting to see Google push its machine learning systems into more varied applications,” reports The Verge.
Adams’ blog post details the beginnings of Keen, as he and his wife “started collecting some of the things that brought [them] joy and shared them with each other.” “It was powerful to tell each other what we wanted to spend more time on.” he wrote. “And once we did, we found that collecting related ideas, links and resources together gave us a way to spend more time on our shared passions in real life.”
Working in collaboration with Google’s People + AI Research (PAIR) team, Adams listed the characteristics of Keen as “a home for long-term interests” and a place to “build a collection of your best resources on a topic you know well and share it with people who would enjoy your curation.” “The keens can be private or public, so you control what is shared and who can contribute,” said Adams, who noted that, “for every keen you create, we use Google Search and the latest in machine learning to remain on the lookout for helpful content related to your interests.”
“The more you save to a keen and organize it, the better the recommendations become,” he noted.