The Dent · A Look At Artifact

A Look At Artifact

There’s been a bit of an influx of news aggregators and feed manager type apps recently. One in particular I hear a lot about is Matter. At its heart it’s a read-later app, but it also does a lot of work to help you curate a feed of content you’re interested in. Whilst I gave Matter a go, it never quite stuck with me. A similar app, however, called Artifact has quickly become one of my most used apps.

Artifact is the creation of Instagram’s co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. The app is part news aggregator and, due to some recent updates, part social network. According to their website, Artifact:

… uses AI to learn your interests and keep you up-to-date with the information and inspiration that matters most to you. Start discovering the most interesting articles and content shared from our community.

When you first launch the app you can let Artifact know a bit about your interests, such as Technology, Gaming, and apps etc. by following and interacting with various articles, which are pulled in from a multitude of areas. You can follow various publications and interests and also fellow users. The aspect of following news sources to start building up a flow of information that interests you is nothing new, or unique. It’s this social element, of following other accounts so you can then see what they’re sharing onto the platform, that really sets it apart for me. Users can share links onto the platform, thus feeding it more content to then make available for users. You can even post directly to it, should you wish to, and build up a profile of your own shared, and directly published, content.

The home tab lists the various channels you’ve followed. From there you can, obviously, read the articles, or you can block sources, mute them, and even mark the articles are click bait.


The second tab, for links, is the most interesting one to me, however. Whilst the home tab is focused on various publications and mainline sources, the links tab is about stuff that users have been sharing. You have the algorithmically driven ‘For You’ stuff alongside nearby, recent and following. This is where the social network aspect comes in. You can not only read the links and articles, but like and comment on them as well. The likes go towards feeding the algorithm, I suppose, but the comments sections have so far been really engaging and interesting to me. Your mileage may vary, of course, but for me they’ve been filled with decent conversation around the topic in question. Basing a social network / interaction purely around shared content is a fun approach and it removes the ‘fluff’ about what someone has for breakfast from a feed when you really want to just focus on getting some news or information. Much like a regular social network, it goes through trends such as people sharing their favourite hidden gem apps, or their home screens so it’s been very interesting finding new and unique apps I wasn’t aware of.

One thing that really stood out for me was the interaction and engagement I was seeing. I thought I’d try sharing a recent link to one of my blog posts, the fun default apps trend. As you may know, my blogging habits are shockingly lacks, so my posts generally get little to no engagement. After sharing it to Artifact, however, it received way more hits than I’d ever generally get, as you can see:

chart Image from Tinylytics

Whilst these are not huge numbers in general, they are in the context of my past history and way more than I’d get from sharing to Threads or Mastodon, by a long shot. I’m not sure if this is a one off and the defaults trend was bigger than I thought, but it was interesting to see none the less.

Currntly, I’m all in on Artifact for most of my chill reading time. The only concern I have, and it’s a fairly big one, is what the monetisation model looks like. When a new app or service springs up and takes my interest I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Will it have a huge subscription price? Or will it soon be peppered with ads, polluting my curated timeline with content I’ve no interest in? At this point, given its Instagram lineage, I’d wager on the latter. This is unfortunate, but for right now I’m enjoying it for what it is. If I can ride on the coat tails a bit to both get a bit more engagement, but also really enjoy the content and interaction in the mean time I’m all for it. Before recommending it I should really know more about the privacy policy and what not, but you’re a big boy / girl, I’ll leave that research to you. Just don’t let me know if it’s too bad! 😃

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