- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Most of the articles that show up in your newspaper or magazine are chosen by professional editors. What if they are picked out by a friend from college instead? Or a colleague from work? Or your mom? Anyone you know, really?

That’s the concept behind Flipboard, a free application for Apple Inc.’s mega-selling iPad.

It’s a marriage of the new media ethos that we’ve all become news editors for our online contacts and the traditional media’s talent for packaging the news in a way that’s inviting and cohesive.

Flipboard takes the random links that accumulate on your Facebook or Twitter account _ plus your friends’ personal status updates and tweets _ and makes something like a digital magazine out of them.

Blurbs of text and photos recommended by friends become fodder for a continuously updated collage of content. You can also add sections to your magazine compiled from the tweets of just one contact or a specific publication _ Spin magazine, say, or The Huffington Post.

The pages are laid out much like a newspaper or magazine. A swipe of the finger flips open the next page on the iPad’s dazzlingly vivid screen.

And you can use the app to post comments to an item on Facebook or e-mail articles to friends.

For a week or so, I’ve made this hodge-podge my daily reading.

Flipboard comes with enough flaws that I won’t be canceling my newspaper or magazine subscriptions just yet.

But I think the app has promise.

As much as the blizzard of Web links that confront me every day have begun to dictate my reading habits, I still want a comprehensive take on the day’s events _ something more than a link on a Facebook page. And there’s an obvious appeal in keeping tabs on what the people I actually know and care about are interested in reading.

Flipboard is an excellent way to get a quick, very broad sense of what your Facebook friends and the people you follow on Twitter are up to.

Instead of scrolling through a Twitter feed of disembodied text links or sifting through your friends’ wall postings, Flipboard lays it all out for you.

And like a professional publication, it usually gives you a better sense of what you’re getting if you decide to click through to a story. The application digs into the link and pulls out some text, a headline and photo for you to peruse before you dive deeper.

If you do, the application takes you straight to the original Web page _ presumably a plus for publishers, because the advertising they sell appears alongside the article. This process is surprisingly quick. If you have a good Internet connection, there’s very little lag time between pushing the button and getting your material.

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