Tina Huang: Curating for SRE Through Lessons Learned at Google News
In the late 1990s, many kids got into programming video games. Tina Huang enjoyed developing her GeoCities site but not making games. Huang loved automating her website.
“It is not a lie to say that what got me excited about coding was automation,” said Huang, co-founder of Transposit, in this week’s episode of our Tech Founder podcast series. “Now, you’re probably going to think to yourself: ‘what middle school kid likes automation?'”
Huang loved the idea of automating mundane tasks with a bit of code, so she did not have to hand type — just like the Jetsons and Rosie the Robot — the robot people want. There to fold your laundry but not take the joy away from what people like to do.
Huang is like many of the founders we interview. Her job can be what she wants it to be. But Huang also has to take care of everything that needs to get done. All the work comes down to what the Transposit site says on the home page: Bring calm to the chaos. Through connected workflows, give TechOps and SREs visibility, context, and actionability across people, processes, and APIs.
The statements reflect on her own experience in using automation to provide high-quality information.
“I’ve always been swimming upstream against the tide when I worked at companies like Google and Twitter, where, you know, the tagline for Google News back then was “News by Robots,” Huang said. “The ideal in their mind was how do you get robots to do all the news reporting. And that is funny because now I think we have a different opinion. But at the time, it was popular to think news by robots would be more factual, more Democratic.”
Huang worked on a project at Google exploring how to use algorithms to curate the first pass of curation for human editors to go in and then add that human touch to the news. The work reflected her love for long-form journalism and that human touch to information.
Transposit offers a similar next level of integration. Any RSS fans out there? Huang has a love/hate relationship with RSS. She loves it for what it can feed, but if the feed is not filtered, then it becomes overwhelming. Getting inundated with information happens when multiple integrations start to layer from Slack, for example, and other sources.
“And suddenly, you’re inundated with information because it was information designed for the consumption by machines, not at the human scale,” Huang said. “You need that next layer of curation on top of it. Like how do you allow people to annotate that information? ”
Providing a choice in subscriptions can help. But at what level? And that’s one of the areas that Huang hopes to tackle with Transposit.