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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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I Need A News Feed For My News Feeds

Comments (15)

Josh Kopelman doesn’t blog that frequently, but almost all of them are worth reading carefully.  His latest post – Feed Frenzy – is great.  Josh is facing the "multiple news feed problem" as he joins more and more services that publish a news feed.  He takes on the notification side of the equation – the opposite of what FriendFeed and SocialThing do.

All of the social network sites continue to use email as a notification mechanism.  When something happens on the social network that pertains to you (including messages), you get an email.  Anyone that has a meaningful volume of social network activity quickly learns how to turn these notifications off.  This defeats part of the real time value of social networks – now I have to go check and see what’s going on to see if anything relevant to me has happened.

As the "too much email" meme continues to circulate, someone is going to realize that one of the drivers of it is the endless notification cycle and the least common denominator – namely email – that is the mechanism for the notifications.

The solution – as Josh points out – is analogous to SNMP and network operations.  Josh wants an SNMP enabled dashboard for all his news feeds.  Aggregate everything into one easy to monitor dashboard, take action automatically on critical things that I’ve told the dashboard it can take action on, and organize the rest of the notifications in a way that I can deal with.

As an extra special bonus, this dashboard would help me connect all the atomic data (namely – my friend data) on the various social networks I’m getting news feed data from.  Fred Wilson would be "Fred Wilson" across twitter, his blog, his tumblr, facebook, linkedin, myspace, disqus, intense debate, etc.  I’d be able to interact with "Fred Wilson", not each of the discrete Fred Wilson’s.

There was a moment in time where I thought RSS might be the solution for this.  But it’s not – there’s a second order problem (and opportunity) here that requires something additional, especially given that new API’s are appearing for handling specific services news feeds. 

Stuff like FriendFeed and SocialThing address part of the problem, but not all of it (and – ironically – often create additional data as anyone who was been notified by email that a new friend has signed up to follow them on FriendFeed has discovered.)

I love recursive problems.

  • http://www.emaildashboard.com Deva Hazarika

    Brad, for those readers of yours who are Outlook users, we've created a way to address some of those problems. Here's how we described it on our company blog:

    http://blog.clearcontext.com/2008/03/new-release-

    “The current IMS Dashboard is focused on projects. But lots of emails that clog up your inbox are notifications of some sort that can be analyzed, processed, and organized for you automatically. We don’t think you should have to manually process all the social networking requests, log file reports, corporate announcements or various other types of status and notification emails that arrive every day. We’ve developed another type of dashboard to automatically manage this sort of processing.”

    Anyone interested should sign up for our new beta. And any companies interested in having their notifications automatically processed in an intelligent manner should give us a yell too.

    I also wrote a response to Michael's post: http://www.emaildashboard.com/2008/03/hi-techcrun

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Deva – you are right on the mark from an Outlook perspective. We played around with some of this with a company called Nemeo (which was acquired by Postini in 2001) and never got very far. It's clearly coming around again and based on what I've seen Clearcontext do so far, it's definitely on the right track.

  • http://socialwrite.com Jevon MacDonald

    I wrote about some of the problems with lifestreaming apps today as well., namely that right now they are just serving to create more noise, not to provide a way to cut down on the noise.

    http://socialwrite.com/2008/03/23/lifestreaming-a

  • http://www.scripting.com/ Dave Winer

    It's hard to tell but I think you want reading lists, a dynamic list of freeds that your aggregator subscribes to and as the contents of the feed changes you get input from different RSS feeds. It's usually done in OPML although you could certainly invent a new format for this. The advantage of using OPML is that all aggregators already have the ability to read and write it. The only change (and it could be major depending on how the software is architected) is that the OPML is dynamic now, not imported once, but re-read each time the aggregator scans.

    All my tools support reading lists, the NewsRiver aggregator and the Podcatcher I'm building in FlickrFan (and FlickrFan itself).

    You can read about it on Scripting News, I've been evangelizing this stuff for years.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ascripting.c

    Dave

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Caveat: I’m sure I don’t understand the complete power of OPML. However, I don’t think OPML and reading lists get there. While I can see how OPML can address one dimension of this, I don’t simply want a consolidation of all my news feeds via an aggregator. I want a bunch of other things, including de-dup users and data, pivot on users, consolidate user across all news feeds, and drill down into specific conversations – especially across different services. I guess you could use OPML to surface the core lists (and RSS to surface the data), but you would still have to do an awful lot of work on the client side to get to where my brain is heading.

  • bahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    What Dave Winer means to say is “the advantage of using OPML is that I invented it” bahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, sorry I need to puke up again

  • http://bernardlunn.wordpress.com/ bernard lunn

    Sounds like a semantic filter that feeds into a spreadsheet with real time updates, so you can pivot and list order as you like. Thats what thousands of traders do and they have been wrestling with this firehose stuff for decades and with lots at stak.

  • B2

    Brad, you've probably posted about this before, but what do you use as your client for reading RSS feeds?

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      FeedDemon on Windows; NetNewsWire on my Mac; NewsGator Go on my Windows Mobile phone. All sync with NewsGator Enterprise Server. I used FeedDemon with NewsGator Online for a while until we installed NGES.

      • http://tubejumper.com shawn mccollum

        I used newsgator like crazy until about 6 months ago but ended up building my own because I needed a different way to manage my feeds.

  • http://tubejumper.com Shawn McCollum

    I personanlly don't have any meaningful volume of social network activity. Readwriteweb had a good list of rss filter tools. Maybe the same thing could apply here. Have a service that's gives you an email like feld@emailfilter.com that you give to these services that send email notifications. It will have an interface that is geared towards filtering rather then reading. then you could choose what to do with the notifications, maybe linkedin goes to your work email while facebook goes to gmail. In the contacts in this service you could link Fred Wilson to fwilson on twitter and wilsonf on facebook, and the service will know that when you say to SMS you all things fred wilson you don't have to create multiple filters for each service.

  • John May

    I think one of Rally's customers is focused on this. http://www.ripl.com

  • Dan Burcaw

    “Anyone that has a meaningful volume of social network activity quickly learns how to turn these notifications off. This defeats part of the real time value of social networks”

    So true. Any system that attempts to help this problem needs to allow for prioritization of specific feeds, but also an overall tolerance to volume.

    For example, Fred's feed is really important, so let's make sure I always receive everything that is going on there (maybe at the detriment to some other feed I care less about).

    Some days I am particularly busy, so I may not have as much tolerance for a high volume of traffic from any source (including Fred). The spigot is closed a bit, but Fred's traffic still has the highest priority of flow down the pipe.

  • http://rfreeborn.blogspot.com/ rob

    maybe yahoo pipes (http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/) could provide part of the foundation to create a service like this.

    if you could extrapolate a layer of uber user friendly UI on top of this, blend in some data from a service like xobni….hmmm…could get interesting.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/deva_hazari2084 deva_hazari2084

    Brad, for those readers of yours who are Outlook users, we've created a way to address some of those problems. Here's how we described it on our company blog:

    http://blog.clearcontext.com/2008/03/new-release-

    "The current IMS Dashboard is focused on projects. But lots of emails that clog up your inbox are notifications of some sort that can be analyzed, processed, and organized for you automatically. We don’t think you should have to manually process all the social networking requests, log file reports, corporate announcements or various other types of status and notification emails that arrive every day. We’ve developed another type of dashboard to automatically manage this sort of processing."

    Anyone interested should sign up for our new beta. And any companies interested in having their notifications automatically processed in an intelligent manner should give us a yell too.

    I also wrote a response to Michael's post: http://www.emaildashboard.com/2008/03/hi-techcrun

  • Dave Winer

    It's hard to tell but I think you want reading lists, a dynamic list of freeds that your aggregator subscribes to and as the contents of the feed changes you get input from different RSS feeds. It's usually done in OPML although you could certainly invent a new format for this. The advantage of using OPML is that all aggregators already have the ability to read and write it. The only change (and it could be major depending on how the software is architected) is that the OPML is dynamic now, not imported once, but re-read each time the aggregator scans.

    All my tools support reading lists, the NewsRiver aggregator and the Podcatcher I'm building in FlickrFan (and FlickrFan itself).

    You can read about it on Scripting News, I've been evangelizing this stuff for years.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ascripting.c

    Dave

  • bernard lunn

    Sounds like a semantic filter that feeds into a spreadsheet with real time updates, so you can pivot and list order as you like. Thats what thousands of traders do and they have been wrestling with this firehose stuff for decades and with lots at stak.

  • Jevon MacDonald

    I wrote about some of the problems with lifestreaming apps today as well., namely that right now they are just serving to create more noise, not to provide a way to cut down on the noise.

    http://socialwrite.com/2008/03/23/lifestreaming-a

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Deva – you are right on the mark from an Outlook perspective. We played around with some of this with a company called Nemeo (which was acquired by Postini in 2001) and never got very far. It's clearly coming around again and based on what I've seen Clearcontext do so far, it's definitely on the right track.

  • John May

    I think one of Rally's customers is focused on this. http://www.ripl.com

  • bahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    What Dave Winer means to say is “the advantage of using OPML is that I invented it” bahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, sorry I need to puke up again

  • B2

    Brad, you've probably posted about this before, but what do you use as your client for reading RSS feeds?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dan_burcaw6513 dan_burcaw6513

    "Anyone that has a meaningful volume of social network activity quickly learns how to turn these notifications off. This defeats part of the real time value of social networks"

    So true. Any system that attempts to help this problem needs to allow for prioritization of specific feeds, but also an overall tolerance to volume.

    For example, Fred's feed is really important, so let's make sure I always receive everything that is going on there (maybe at the detriment to some other feed I care less about).

    Some days I am particularly busy, so I may not have as much tolerance for a high volume of traffic from any source (including Fred). The spigot is closed a bit, but Fred's traffic still has the highest priority of flow down the pipe.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    FeedDemon on Windows; NetNewsWire on my Mac; NewsGator Go on my Windows Mobile phone. All sync with NewsGator Enterprise Server. I used FeedDemon with NewsGator Online for a while until we installed NGES.

  • shawn mccollum

    I used newsgator like crazy until about 6 months ago but ended up building my own because I needed a different way to manage my feeds.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Caveat: I’m sure I don’t understand the complete power of OPML. However, I don’t think OPML and reading lists get there. While I can see how OPML can address one dimension of this, I don’t simply want a consolidation of all my news feeds via an aggregator. I want a bunch of other things, including de-dup users and data, pivot on users, consolidate user across all news feeds, and drill down into specific conversations – especially across different services. I guess you could use OPML to surface the core lists (and RSS to surface the data), but you would still have to do an awful lot of work on the client side to get to where my brain is heading.

  • Shawn McCollum

    I personanlly don't have any meaningful volume of social network activity. Readwriteweb had a good list of rss filter tools. Maybe the same thing could apply here. Have a service that's gives you an email like feld@emailfilter.com that you give to these services that send email notifications. It will have an interface that is geared towards filtering rather then reading. then you could choose what to do with the notifications, maybe linkedin goes to your work email while facebook goes to gmail. In the contacts in this service you could link Fred Wilson to fwilson on twitter and wilsonf on facebook, and the service will know that when you say to SMS you all things fred wilson you don't have to create multiple filters for each service.

  • rob

    maybe yahoo pipes (http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/) could provide part of the foundation to create a service like this.

    if you could extrapolate a layer of uber user friendly UI on top of this, blend in some data from a service like xobni….hmmm…could get interesting.

  • http://top-gear-streaming.blogspot.com TopGearStreaming

    thank you for the tips

  • http://top-gear-streaming.blogspot.com TopGearStreaming

    thank you for the tips

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