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Posts Tagged ‘digg’

Twitter killed the RSS reader

March 20, 2009 1 comment

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.

Email subscription

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.

MicroPlaza

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:)

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Eight good reasons for using headup (Firefox add-on)

January 25, 2009 6 comments

Headup – the semantic web Firefox addon

I recently started using Headup. I’ve been looking for this kind of addon for some time now. When bits of information are missing from peoples’ profile pages, product specs, media, and other online content it is crucial to combine multiple data sources to piece together a complete picture. Headup does this!

Using its smart semantic mapping of entities and relationships Headup gathers and links information from multiple online sources. To complete the picture it then personalizes the results using your presence on multiple web services like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.
Headup is not only innovative in its semantic approach to linking data, it also integrates nicely with your Firefox browser and offers you a few ways to access the data it discovers. One example is Google searches: After installing Headup you can expect to see your search term annotated “Headup:[search term]” with a thin orange underline at the top of Google’s results. When your mouse hovers over the term a click-able circular plus sign loader will allow you to open Headup’s overlay  interface.

headup-topserp 

The starting point – googling eagle eye.

headup-eagleeye

The complete picture – headup-ing eagle eye

I recommend you visit Headup‘s website to learn how to use it but as a whole it’s pretty intuitive and I prefer dedicating this post to the reasons you should get it:

My eight reasons for using the Headup Semantic Web Firefox add-on :

  1. Because hyperlinks simply aren’t enough – Relying merely on arbitrarily selected outbound links that send you to find info related to the page you are browsing is limiting. There are more relationships among the different entities on the page that could be leveraged to retrieve associated information. Headup already mapped out these semantic links and makes them available for you in a neat and accessible interface. The experience doesn’t end with search results.
  2. Because you can save valuable search time - Both the user interface, and the way information is presented, require less clicks to complete an in-depth search through multiple search sources.
  3. Because the information comes to you – Search can be an exhausting task. In many cases it involves either a recursive drilling down into multiple levels, or traversing the search vertical up and down for additional information. Google itself is aware of this potentially laborious process and is making an effort to bring associated information to the first SERP: Recently when I googled the term “movie” I got three results that were movies playing in theaters in my area. Headup provides multiple data types as a default: Using Headup on the “Pink Floyd” will get you a summary relating to the term, the bands albums, see photos depicting it, listen to the bands songs while reading their lyrics, find news blogs and web activities related to it, and much more.
  4. Because it brings down the chances you’ll miss key information – “Headuping” people is a terrific way to learn more about them. I “Headup-ed” my friend Bill Cammack on Facebook and immediately discovered that he’s a video editor with an Emmy award to his name. In this case the extra information regarding the Emmy award was brought in from Bill’s LinkedIn profile.
  5. Because you can learn and find information you didn’t expect –  If the example from my previous item wasn’t proof enough here’s anoter example: I ran Headup on “Kill Bill” (what can I say? – I’m a Tarantino fan) and discovered this blog post published today (1-2-2009): “More Kill Bill on the way” – Tell me this isn’t cool!!
  6. Because it’s personalized – When configuring Headup after download, or later via the “Settings” option, you can choose to connect Headup to the online services you are subscribed to. Headup connects to a wide variety of web services like: Gmail, Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, FriendDeed, Digg, Last.fm etc. The information Headup retrieves from these services allows it to personalize the info it discovers for you: If you Headup a firm you’ll get friends of yours that work there. If you Headup a band you’ll see who in your network likes them. This is another example of how Headup is not just a search tool but a browsing experience.
  7. Because you don’t lose your starting point – Headup is designed as an overlay window that keeps your starting web page, and anything else you have open on your desktop, visible beneath the interfaces’ SilverLight frame. Inside Headup you can drill down endlessly, but when you’re done you are back where you started.
  8. Because your information is safe – from Headup’s Privacy Policy – “In plain English”:
“We here at Headup treasure our privacy and that’s exactly why we made every effort to create a browser add-on that would live up to user privacy standards we would be comfortable with. We’d be embarrassed to let you download an add-on we wouldn’t download ourselves.”
 
**You don’t need to sign-up for using Headup and your information is stored on your machine only**

 **Bonus: one additional reason – because on some pages it ROCKS! Try it on last.fm and you’ll see why it ROCKS…literally! By the way, the Headup user interface lets you watch videos and listen to music like a regular media player.

My questions for the Headup team

I plan on occasionally checking Headup’s blog for updates. At this point Headup supports Firefox on Windows and on Macs but I know that they plan to support more browsers in the future. I think that at this point the key thing to focus on is that the Headup concept works.

I do have few questions for the Headup team:

  1. Do you plan on adding vertical derived classifications? I can see some use cases for health (and maybe even for software development). Just as headup was able to map out “Actors”, “Films by the same director”, “Web Activities”, “Related News”, “Trailers”, etc. for a “Film” type entity. I can see it applied in a similar fashion for a “Health” type entity – retrienving things like: “Case”, “Treatment”, “Clinics”, “Pharmaceuticals”, “News Groups” etc…
  2. Do you see enterprise usage for Headup? I still need to give it more thought but having Headup in my email could be cool. Another possible implementation is supporting corporate CMS tools.

Epilogue – Is Headup’s “Top Down” approach the face of the future Semantic Web?

The Semantic web promises to make information understandable by machines. If you follow Alex Iskold‘s excellent series on Semantic Web on ReadWriteWeb you are aware of the multiple approaches to make this happen. The top-down method implemented by Headup helps brings the future to us a little sooner. I think Headup is giving us a taste of what future browsers will look like in an age when they, and other tools, will be able to understand more than just hyperlinks. When using Headup it feels like I’m doing more than “browsing” or “searching” I feel like I’m experiencing a new web!

One last thing: using Headup for some objects didn’t yield complete results. Don’t judge them too harshly for it, instead please focus on the concept. My experience with Headup so far is that in most cases the relevancy of the information provided was more than reasonable. I think that for a small company just out of Alpha what has been accomplished in the short time the company has exited is impressive and promises that improvements will be fast coming.

I’m using Headup and gave you the eight reason I have for doing so. If you are using it too I’d be happy to hear why…

Web presence – piecing together an Identity

July 31, 2008 3 comments

People leave missing information all the time. No blog About page, no employer name, no picture, no blogger name, Twitter account without web page link. Some time the simple link connection is not enough to piece it together. Your network too can help in finding connections or confuse people if your connections are spreads on more than one social network and accounts?  In some cases it is done intentionally and no harm done but in others cases when done by mistake it could lead to lost traffic and opportunities. From what that I see and through my experience most times if the information is not just there, only few will bother looking for it. Isn’t bringing these connections forward and bridging information gaps the role of the new Social Graph Search Engines?

This post will cover:

Finding out how objects are connected across multiple web applications. Overcoming cases when the information falls between the web cracks or is deliberately missing. Looking beyond the trivial context of web links (URL), friends, fans or followers.

  • Understanding the problems – some examples
  • Looking what tools can help piecing the missing information together
  • Bringing it forward – making it easily available when needed

Understanding the problems

Example 1 – me and my blog:

I did not add my blog URL to my LinkedIn profile. I did not add my employer’s name to my blog About page. I did it intentionally. I like to keep them separate for now. Omitting these two pieces of information seems to work so far. This missing information is not bridged by any social graph search engine that I’ve seen so far. It is ironic but a simple search of my name on Google will reveal the connection (warning: there are couple more Keren Dagans out there – both has nothing to do with software or technology). The connection in this case between me, my blog and my employer is my identity (similar profile info such as name, picture and location).

Example 2 – disconnected social networks:

I keep my Facebook and LinkedIn networks separate. I only have a couple of relatives overlap. I use Facebook for personal connections and LinkedIn for professional ones. I use Facebook sometime to post my new blog posts. It seems like social search engines can link between my friends across the networks, yet again, there is no association between me and my blog. Some information inside one’s activity can help making the connection.

Example 3 – multiple presence using disconnected accounts:

Case 1: My “personal” Twitter account is @kerendg. The other day I submitted a query to Twitter Search, searching for references to my other Twitter account @BlogMon. I found out that Stowe Boyd (stoweboyd) was asking “who is running BlogMon?”. The link to my blog is on BlogMon web page, and can be easily found using Twhirl or Twitter Search. I don’t know if he ever got an answer to this question or no. Soon after, I started following @stoweboyd using my @kerendg account (I don’t follow from @Blogmon). He did not contact me or follow-me on Twitter till this day- maybe because it is hard to make the connection or maybe it is just not that important. Your blog is an important piece of the new identity (FYI – WordPress using your blog URL for your OpenID).

Case 2: Some entrepreneurs runs both the start-up blog and their own blog. Only in few cases there is a link from the corporate web site to the entrepreneur’s (see Mashery  -> Blogroll for Praxis blog ran by their CEO, Oren Michels – even this is not easy to connect). Same story using Twitter accounts (one for the business and one for personal updates). In LinkedIn organization is a connection. This is true across networks in addition to your role.

Example 4  – blog action:

Case 1 – comments: I don’t get too many comments on my blog. I can only wish to get more. Yet, I did get some comments from people with vast web presence. Is this some kind of connection? Did I Digg/Saved one of their blog post ? Did I mentioned their companies? You give me your attention I see it as another type of connection.

I also leave comments occasionally, mostly on the same 4 or 5 blogs.  This information can help to understand my preferences.  Similar interest is a another piece in the puzzle. Past activity on my blog too. Frequent reader is yet another type of connection with the blogger.

Case 2 – traffic source and blog reaction: I look at WordPress, BlogStats page. The section of Referrers shows traffic that is not coming from two type of sources:

  • Unidentified – there is no way to track it back to the person that looked on my web site.
    • Traffic from search engines
    • Traffic from commends that I left (and there is no reply)
    • Traffic from “similar post” links
    • Traffic from incoming link to my blog from other blogs
    • WordPress tags
  • Identified – tracked back, with some luck
    • Traffic coming from some sort of a network like Twitter, Jaiku, Digg, reddit, StumbleUpon, Twine, Pijoo.

Since there is nothing to do about the first type of traffic (non invasively) there is nothing to add here, but for the second type: let the search begin…trying to find the source. Who dugg my blog? save it in reddit? is there a reply to my comment (like in Techcrunch comment threads)? Who mentioned it on Jaiku or Twitter? The information is scattered all over the net.

Most of my Twitters followers came through my blog. I added friends, people that acted upon my posts in other networks. I care about the origin reaction.  When it is actually possible to track it back to the source, it involves a lot of  leg work. Blog reaction is another type of connection . As I wrote about this before in “What is a blog reaction these days?” I don’t refer to “Blog Reaction” in the narrow definition of someone writing a counter blog post (pingback is a trivial link).

Some of the tools that are available today for piecing it together:

  • Google search(Web) – searching for the person’s name, organization association – this is enough to discover presence across multiple networks.
  • LinkedIn – searching for the person name and organization – looking at both profiles to cross reference with the other details to make sure that this is the same person.
  • Google Alerts  – add your link, blog name, your name, Twitter @account and link – looking for references.
  • Technorati – looking for blog info and fans  
  • Twitter – this is a process
    • If the information is coming from WordPress Referrer then you can follow it (unless it is coming from your account and not worth following)
    • If not – you can search your link as is but it is better to try hashing it using TinyLink or http://is.gd/ or http://snurl.com or other URL shortening services. Use Twitter Search for that. Tip: select in all Languages – I found out that if this setting is not on a link search will return nothing even if the update is in English – the default.
    • Use Twitter Search to search your name, and @account too.
  • Delver – network graph – this service can save some of the leg work checking multiple networks.
  • Jaiku – same as Twitter. What that is nice about Jaiku is that Google Alerts pick up on conversion.  
  • Flickr – some people like me don’t have account but do have tagged pictures submitted by friends.
  • WordPress Referrer – this is the starting point
  • Digg, reddit, del.icio.us and a like – go to your profile page and see who dugg/saved/rate your post

Do you know about more tools?

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if there was one tool that does all that and bring this information forward when it is most relevant. 

Bringing it forward

If this information could be gathered through single tool then my ideal solution is something like SnapShots. When I click on any account, link from anywhere on the web present me with the graph. Show me this entity’s web presence. Show me how can we connect? This person blog, other accounts. The information could be context sensitive – e.g if I’m in Twitter show me all Twitter accounts for the same entity – show me if we are connected through Twitter first.

Alternatively, send me an alerts about subtle semantic links to me and my blog. Something like.

  • This individual
    • from this location
    • working at
    • in this role
    • own this blog
    • x degree from you on Y network
  • Acted:
    • was once at your blog before
    • looked at your blog on this post
    • you profile in LinkedIn
    • your other Twitter account
    • respond to your comment
    • dugg your blog.
  • Options
    • Do you want to make a “trivial” link and connect?
    • Go to his blog

Summary

In this post I was trying to explain that if we want to build a complete social graph network it is not enough to look only on the “trivial” links. This is just the beginning. It will not present a full picture of one’s web presence and identity. In order to construct a useful graph there is a need to look at other type of links. These links are scattered across multiple social network and services. They are part of the enhanced meaning of one’s profile attributes including activities and relationship.

I see three steps moving in this direction. The first is piecing someone’s identity drawing on information from multiple sources. The second is using this information for finding new ways that people are connected i.e. building the complete and rich social graph. the third is presenting it when relevant.

I did not cover the uses cases for having such information at hand. On top of my head I can think of a few:

  •  It could be handy to QA web presence – especially if the entity is a business
  • It could be handy for web-sites to understand their crowd
  • It could be handy for business development

FriendFeed exposes the need for FeedFriend

July 8, 2008 1 comment

FriendFeed  is an application for sharing much of your online activity and for folowing others and their feeds. You can add up to 41 services as of today collecting feeds from each to your feed stream. The value of this is still in question but it is not the subject of this post.

Now, one can assume that if you share something in one place and many of your followers can see it, this should be enough to market your blog, but apparently it is not. One can assume that this could be a great time saver for a blogger marketing his recent blog post by cutting down the leg work going around and posting the blog post link in multiple places (some of the 41 options).

The reality shows the opposite. I still see some of this service’s heavy users going around adding the links everywhere including the same marketing shpiel. How I see this – ironically using FriendFeed. Because I follow them and run Twhirl on my desktop I keep seeing the same light-weight pop-up windows with the notification about those users’ activity and only the source is differnt.

I assume that the reason for that “busy working” activity is the fact that many of the target audience is not yet on FriendFeed and these bloggers can’t rely on the message to go around using FriendFeed service exclusively .

So, I see an option to change the direction of the feed as well – i.e FeedFriend. Having a publishing service that can add the blog post link with a message simultaneously to multiple services (41 is a good number) such as Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Jaiku, reddit and more.

It will be helpful too if FriendFeed or Twhirl will filter duplicate notifications so I will not see the same blogger market the same post per each Social: Network, Bookmarking or Status service.

Your thoughts….

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