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Mar 22, 2008

Feeds, Weeds, Reads, and User Needs

I need news feeds to keep me informed. I also need feeds to keep subscribers informed.

Do I need hundreds of feeds and dozens of robotic agents to filter the weeds? Who's taking care of my needs?

Emerging Chaos

ReadWriteWeb identified 35 lifestreaming sites. Guy Kawasaki advises Alltop, Feedhub, and Spokeo. Yahoo has alerts, bookmarks, buzz, del.icio.us, desktop widgets, geocities, groups, mail-beta, mybloglog, myweb, myyahoo, pipes, 360, shortcut, toolbar widgets, ... what am I missing? Google, Microsoft, and AOL have taken the similar shot-gun approach to many beta projects. (Aside: these paragraphs are good examples of flypaper writing.)

Browsers like Explorer 7.0, Firefox 2.0, Opera, and Safari offer tools for RSS feeds. Portals like AOL, Google, Microsoft Live, New York Times, and Yahoo want their personalized page to be your feeds. Email services like alerts, groups, mail readers want the same.

Social media sites like Del.icio.us, Digg, Furl, Mixx, Newsvine, Reddit, Sphere, Spot, Stumble Upon, Techmeme, and Technorati advocate community rated feeds. As feeds integrate with social networks, thousands of applications and widgets bring relevant content to social circles.

It's chaos.

Weed and Feed for Me

I've used Google and Yahoo alerts, iGoogle and myYahoo pages, Google readers, Digg and Stumble Upon, and FriendFeed and Blog Friends at Facebook. Do they take care of my needs?

Dave Winer has been writing about the river for years. Despite hundreds of shared media projects, nothing has changed.

  • Each alert, feed, or filter produces 1 of 10, at best, relevant post that I read.
  • Discovery of interesting feeds never ends.
Contextual and behavioral targeting has not solved these problems. Is the problem fundamentally solvable?

Weeds and Feeds for Me Readers

RSS distributes content. Tools like AddThis and FeedBurner simplify reader subscriptions. Outsourcing this integration with emerging hot sites makes sense for writers and creators.

A few sites support self-subscription (i.e. a magazine rack or river delta) This brings your content closer to your circle of readers at each community. Facebook, FriendFeed, MyBlogLog, Technorati, and Tumbr allow subscriptions.

The Mississippi River delta-extending the river/stream analogy.

Digg, LinkedIn, MySpace, Stumble Upon, and WordPress do not. Like groups and forums, manual postings are needed for community participation.

OpenSocial will open the opportunities for more automated magazine racks.

About Lifestreaming

Lifestreaming reports details of my Internet travels to my friends. FriendFeed and MyBlogLog are two of 35 lifestreaming sites. Twitters from a cell phone, ratings at a social media site, postings at a blog, and beacons from commerce sites - do boomer friends want to know these details?

The news-feed at Facebook has been useful for discovering old friends, groups, and new applications. Shared photos are cool. The two page news feed takes seconds per day to scan. Clicking notes or posted items shows the writings from friends. Facebook seems to have the right stream rate from friends.

Gen-Y matured from instant messaging to SMS to social networks. Is there momentum for lifestreaming? Are boomers too old for this emerging trend? Without first hand need, it's best to feed, weed, and read from the younger generation.

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