By BoLOBOOLNE payday loans

Solving RSS Infoglut through Social Filtering

This morning Scoble linked to a leaked video out of google describing some new features to be added to Google Reader.  I don’t like re-reporting other-people’s news here, but I can’t leave this one sit because it strikes so close to home for me.  The ideas they describe sound exactly like what I’ve been thinking the world needs out of a feed reader — features to manage infoglut using the social network.

What I’ve been thinking about building in my copious spare time is a web-based feed-reader that assumes you over-subscribe to feeds.  That is, it expects you to "subscribe" to more feeds than you can fully consume.  These days many of the most popular feeds on the web meet this criterion even if that’s all you subscribe too.  I don’t have time to follow any one of TechCrunch, Scobleizer, Engadget, or even Radar in their entirety — I generally don’t even get to skim all their headlines.  But I know people in my social network do, and when they do it would be a small extra effort for them to help me identify the posts that are worth me reading.

This could be done by explicitly recommending articles to friends, or by tagging, or rating, or any of a number of well-understood-yet-often-poorly-implemented mechanisms.  Additionally, I could subscribe to a meta-feed coming out of a single-friend or a set of people in the social network graph that could expand several levels.  And of course there would be meta-feeds covering the aggregate opinions of all users.  The result would be that I could "express mild interest" in a feed by "subscribing to it" and the system would help me figure out which of the voluminous posts were actually worth reading.  Or if other users tagged posts, I could find good posts on a particular topic.  It would encompass a lot of the utility of digg, techmeme and link blogs all at once.  Another step in the process of democratizing information consumption.

I’ve been talking with friends about building this in the context of a facebook app for reasonably obvious reasons.  I’d call it "the outside world" as a reference to the fact that college kids are generally so isolated from external news, and this would be a social way for those few who do read the traditional-news to share good things with their friends.  Facebook’s restrictions on apps processing social networking metadata would make somegood features difficult, but the advantages in marketing and lower barrier to entry probably outweigh that.  Now my idea is out there for the world, so I’m not getting a jump on anybody.  If anybody wants to take this idea and run with it, drop me a line and I’d be happy to help advise.  I might just do it anyway because the Facebook market and the Google Reader market are both healthy and the basics just aren’t that hard.

But it sounds like you’ll have stiff competition.  Quoting from Blogoscoped’s analysis of the video:

    Google’s recent big social effort is called Mocha-Mocha (or
    Mocka-Mocka?), and will become the infrastructure for all social stuff
    across all of their applications.
    As a part of this, a new
    feature called Activity Streams will be introduced or at least
    implemented in Reader this quarter. This will be comparable to
    Facebook’s News Feed (Minifeed?) feature, and integrate Gmail’s
    addressbook and contact list.

    Also there will be some other Gmail and Orkut integration, but this might just mean there will be links to Reader.

Hearing that Brad Fitzpatrick has joined Google and because it’s the kind of thing I do, I’ve been putting some thought into how Google could reasonably add social networking features to their services.  I’ve been talking to folks about how Facebook is currently Google’s biggest strategic threat because they’ve done such a good job integrating the social network into new feature development, and in doing so have democratized new feature development in a way the world has never before seen.  This need struck me as a good way to start integrating social networking features into Google. 

Orkut is and only ever will be a toy IMHO.  Let the Brazilians keep playing with it and don’t push it on the rest of us.  Between contacts and knowledge about whom we chat and e-mail with, gmail has vastly more meaningful set of social networking data.  As we’ve learned watching LinkedIn and okcupid and other social networks thrive side by side, it makes sense to have different social networks for different purposes.  Orkut is a toy network and should not be the basis of anything more meaningful.  Sorry, Orkut.

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