First, I stopped using my favorites, then Digg, Delicious and other social rating/bookmarking websites, now I found myself using less and less the RSS reader, Google or Netvibe. I find great content on Twitter, Twitter search Trending Topics and recently even greater quality content using Twitter based search tools. These are services that mine links from Twitter updates, using different algorithms and post them in an organized fashion. I will refer to these as real-time news search services like Feedly, Microplaza and others.
RSS readers limitations:
Limited selection – it takes time to find and build selection of great blogs. What if the selected blog did not produce any good content lately?
Scalability – it requires the time to organize feeds into tabs or folders. Also some readers, after adding more content grew slower (some more than others).
Social rating/bookmarking websites
I do use delicious for bookmarking of great information and some time for search but I rarely visit the Popular Bookmark page. Submitting content to Digg is too slow and I think that rating is not as powerful as retweeting.
There are some blogs that I follow constantly and I find the email subscription option to work best. This way I know for sure that I’m not missing new content on a daily basis.
The new feed
I now count on Twitter and a growing number of real-time news search websites to feed my curiosity with links.
Feedly – the irony is that Feedly is actually taping into your Google Reader feeds and tags, but it also brings content from other sources including Twitter. You can even see Hot topics via Twitter i.e. trending tags and hashtags. Read more here
MicroPlaza – this service looks at popular links posted on Twitter by the people I’m following (my timeline view). You can also see popular links posted on the public timeline. There is a new feature called Tribe, it is in the work but this option allows me to filter/organize popular links by grouping (enrolling) different people whom I follow on Twitter, into different Tribes. I wish I could use Twellow or WeFollow to speed up organizing my personal list into categories and use them as Tribes in MicroPlaza but this is still better filter than TweetDeck grouping option. In MicroPlaza I only see the popular links from the tribe and not other useless chatty noise – this is a great filter . There are more features and I do plan to cover this service more thoroughly in another post but here I want to focus on the new Trend.
There are growing number of similar services out there. I’m monitoring an additional one but I won’t mention the name yet (giving them a chance to improve). The key feature for me is the quality of the links. How good is the information that the service successfully managed to mine from all the noise on Twitter. The speed is important too. So far the two mentioned above are doing fantastic job.
Using Twitter timeline for the content source pool, employing millions of human web crawlers, filtered by the people I trust (follow) and other mining technics seems like an improved method for finding the best content out there. It truely gives me an edge over RSS feed reader.
Did you stop using your RSS reader too?
I owe it to Sagee Ben-Zedeff for helping me to become aware of this change in my habits and the new Trend. This is another great thing about Twitter – I now reflect more rapidly:)
I keep hearing this phrase describing the problem in the way for social networks and services success.
What is the “chicken or the egg” problem in the context of social web applications?
- The chicken: people will only be able to see the true value of the web site when there is a large user base
- The egg: till people see the true social value of the web site they will not use it
*Since the order between the chicken or the egg is still in question we can replace and call the first condition egg and the second chicken.
Examples: Digg (web-site) is not worth a Digg (verb) if there are not enough participants. Delicious will not be able to bring great knowledge to the surface without having enough people submitting their bookmarks (same case for any other social search engine). Technorati can’t rank blogs without the vast majority of the blogsphere claming their blogs over there.
The problem that I have with using the chicken or the egg logic explaining why a web site is not growing is, if that was completely true there was never a chance to any social media web site. If I can’t understand the true value of the web site right away why should I recommend it to my friends. This contradict entirely the virality phenomenon.
I understand that there is a cold start phase. I realize that not everyone can get on Techcrunch radar (it is not that hard though). In the first pre-alpha phase when your mom, cousin and the good old friend are the entire user base not much is happing. Yet, there are few things that goes for you these days.
There are lots of free self PR opportunities. Your blog, Twitter, Jaiku, FriendFeed, StumbledUpon, tones of social networks, and many “the very next things bloggers” (like me) and more.
What that is common between the examples that I mentioned above (Digg, Delicious, Technorati) is that they were first of their kind. They came in with a new original approaches and “somehow” people dug their value quickly, with enough excitements going telling their peers about it.
I once heard that the difference between smart man and wise man, is that wise man does not get into the troubles that a smart man knows how to deal with. One option is not to get into this so called catch 22. Leave the social features to be the icing on the cake and not the initial driving force joining in. First, focus on the message. What is the value? What can be done here that could not be done elsewhere? For instance in the case of delicious – saving bookmark on the web so one can access them wherever they are: @work, @home and @yourFriend’sHouse was good enough. Having lots of bookmarks shared, saved by others, and tagged so you can find great content – priceless:)
Make your initial value as clear as possible. Make it not socially dependent.Then find a way to bring data and people from the outside. People could exist in the system without registering. Content could be available without manually submitting it. Later data and profile could be claimed. Having people and content around will make the web-site not looking like an empty store. Leverage search engines API like Yahoo BOSS to augment the web-site dull content with live data.
There are other cases like listing web sites that the Chicken or the Egg problem applies. You need to brings both demand and supply almost at the very same time. It took craigslist some time to catch fire but this is not a social network web-site (yet).
Finally, as it takes time to farm a chick out of an egg it will take time to grow the community. In the meantime it is best to find a way not relying on heavy social use as the single way for growing the community. Focus on the value proposition for the individual instead.
I prefer to follow not to invite.
I joined LinkedIn some time ago. It was my first experience with a social network. I enthusiastically searched through all my contacts adding them to my growing network. So far so good.
I then started adding more and more services that offer the option to invite friends and share with them, you know, everything that runs on a computer.
This is when it become hairy, it feels like I need to bug again and again people to get them on my network. So, I did not. And I don’t plan to.
I leave it for other people to ask me to be their friend or contact. I promise that I will always say yes to any invotation.
Sometime in the process of socializing me I found Twitter. This time it was a different model. No more invitation just a simple click on the “Follow” button and that’s it. No hassle no more hesitation. I like this.
What that is also nice is that if you follow someone he gets an email notification telling him who you are and most times he will start following you. So the network grows without breaking a sweat.
If you don’t want people to follow you (I would advice you not to go there in the first place) or if you want people to ask you if they can follow you first, you can control that.
I don’t know what the result of Open Social discussion will come up with but I do know that what that Twitter guys offered works for me.
Could that be the reason why it so appealing?