The problem many people face is that there are so many sources of information that we’re trying to keep track of, we’ve become buried. Information overload is a real problem for many web users, and one way to cope with it is to filter your RSS feeds so you only see what you want to see. There are many ways to filter news feeds from your favorite sources, including passively by relying on meme trackers like Techmeme or social news services such as Google Reader’s shared items.
My biggest problem is that each of my feeds is a single, sequential series of posts that is organized by time, NOT by importance or relevance to me. With a super-bright friend, I’ve been working on some interesting new ideas in feed filtration. Imagine a website that had the most interesting and relevant information for YOU. A sort of fully customized TechMeme…a YouMeme.
Poking around, I’ve found several interesting attempts at solving this challenge:
Feedhub.com – learns from your behavior to suggest posts to you – so far, the user interface and service looks pretty sweet. It gave me my own feed, based on my OPML, which I added to Google Reader, and it will look at my history and give me feeds back. TBD.
** FeedZero.com – It uses Bayesian filtering to present you with a list of filtered feed items – all you need to do is subscribe to a bunch of feeds, mark which ones you like and don’t like (similar to classifying items as spam or not spam in an email client) and it’ll learn your preferences. It has just gone into testing so any feedback would be appreciated – http://www.feedzero.com. I loaded up my OPML here and it does some interesting things.
The interface is sometimes clumsy in operation but clever in its layout. Seems fairly effective at choosing stories I’ll like. This bayesian method must be interesting. So far, so good. Despite the somewhat clumsy interface, the news it is filtering for me is good. Great case in point, after only one day (yesterday) of reading posts and saying ‘yes / no’ to certain ones, it loaded up several articles. The 3rd one, which impressed me the most, was a post about the sale of the domain name, solarenergy.com. It knows I like domain names, it knows I like solar energy, and it spooled up THAT article, out of several hundred it could have shown me. It’s also doing well on other themes too – it’s awesome enough to have this sort of service that I find myself reading MORE news overall, because of the consistently high relevance of the stories to ME.
There are a LOT of other services that are doing something in this sphere: AidRSS, FeedRinse, FilterMyRSS, BlastFeed, etc, but for me, the two above look the most interesting.
TBD if the end result of all of this is (a) to build my own company that does this, or (b) that FeedZero or some other service is useful enough that it is unwise and unnecessary to dive in myself.