Yo, for news

One of my obsessions right now (and for a while, to be honest) is the idea of taking the concept behind Yo, that viral app that made headlines in 2014 because of its insane valuation, and apply it to something like news. It’s an idea I’ve tossed around a bit, but today I’m actually going to start experimenting with it.

There’s a special place in hell for this purple, said every designer ever.

For now, my experiment is limited to a small group of my friends, but the idea is called ‘Did Congress Do Something Today?’ The idea behind it is pretty simple: Take the concept that makes Yo, or those always-funny binary websites, so appealing, but mix it with some type of news coverage that is inherently unappealing to most people, like whether or not Congress passed any bills today. Voila!

The execution in its purest form would be a standalone app, capable of delivering a simple yes-or-no push notification every day. Because I’m a big fan of context (shout out to context), users could then swipe to read more about what happened on any particular day and why exactly Congress didn’t pass any laws.

Given that I’m not (yet) a wizard at producing iOS / Android apps, I figured a good first experiment with this concept would be a TinyLetter (free!) that touches on those basic principles: simple, repetitive delivery of a binary response (with some context), made mobile-first.

I sent the first one out today, and I’ll probably write more about the experiment as I keep it going (or don’t, because sometimes ideas like this actually suck).

If it were something that catches on though, imagine a whole suite of binary news apps that anyone could download and immediately be in-the-know about topics of the day:

  • Did Congress do something today?
  • Did the U.S. kill someone with a drone strike today?
  • Did Donald Trump tweet something casually racist today?
  • Did the Supreme Court make a ruling today?
  • et cetera, et cetera

I think that could be pretty nifty, and maybe a fun way to get people more interested in the news — or at least consuming small bits of news on a regular basis.