Beyond RSS, an opportunity
It has now been a little over a month since I stopped using my RSS reader, instead focusing on Techmeme, Hackernews, Twitter (you can follow me here) and occasionally visiting my favorite sites. If you haven't read the original post where I reasoned why you should stop using an RSS reader, you should probably do so now before jumping to my conclusions.
I have survived - it is official. I haven't used a feed reader for over 30 days, and I can't say I miss it. I have more time to work, the important news still reach me, and whenever I want to dip into a stream of inspiration (something I used my feeds for quite often), I visit specific sites I know will freshen me up with new ideas.
Here's where my plan failed, though (not completely, mind you): there's still important people who's thoughts don't end up on Twitter, Techmeme or Hackernews. The hidden gems are still hidden, somewhere around the blogosphere - and there's no external curator (automated or human) to provide you with that information. With that, here's a bit of history and the description of what I believe to be a great opportunity:##An opportunity in hiding
A few years ago (around 2004, if memory serves me right) I started working on ways to solve this problem, but never really delivered a solution. I had written the plans and the algorithms for a site (and rss feed-based service) where people would read based on their interests using a recommendation system. Work came in the way and that vision was never fully realized.
I believe there is still an untapped opportunity here. People have little time and thirst for knowledge (anyone who works in the information business can attest to this). There's people whose recommendations make a valuable, filtered and curated reading list. We need the service that joins these two together and gives us the definitive reading list. A filtered, personal, vertical-less Techmeme.
Why no-one tackled this problem efficiently in the past puzzles me. There's been attempts, of course, but they somehow all ended up either failing or just heading in the wrong direction. How Google (to state the obvious) hasn't dedicated a big slice of their research to this area, I don't know. But I wish someone did, because unfortunately work is still in the way, and I (as I'm sure, many many others) still need this tool.
I always say this, but now I mean it more than ever - I would love your thoughts. If you have any, please leave a comment or send me an email directly (fred at this domain). I would also appreciate it if you could share this post with your friends and colleagues, in hope that someone reading may get the sudden urge to work on this problem.
Image in this post is part of the concept art for what I believe to be one of the most innovative games in the last few years, Katamari Damacy.