Image: luc legay on Flickr / Some rights reserved
It’s noisy out there. Links fly at you from all angles – news sites, email, Twitter, Facebook, yadda, yadda. Inevitably, from time to time, the wood and the trees merge into a thick internet soup. Any web addict will be familiar with this brain fog. Pawing at our keyboards, sweating, outnumbered, sinking. WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?!?!?!?
RSS readers were supposed to fix this. Sign up to your favourite feeds and wait for them to roll in. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who has abandoned their Google Reader to fend for itself. I was a gluton. I signed up for too much. I figured Twitter would replace it – the wheat would rise to the top, and my stream would deliver me the goods, naturally. But this is too much too. I tried culling the people I followed, but there are too many interesting folk out there.
Which is why I’m excited about a (quite) new breed of app that aims to filter through the noise. They curate, then automate. Curautomate. Sorry. Quixotically, I’ve downloaded three of them. Flipboard, Taptu and Zite all pretty much do the same thing – inviting users to select topics they are interested in (News, Design, Tech etc.), after which we can sit back, relax, and trust the app.
Flipboard is probably the sexiest, with its eponymous vertical flipping interface. You choose your subjects, or sync your Twitter account, and it renders it all beautifully. Flip, flip, flip….
Next up, Taptu. Again, it invites you to choose your feeds, based on subjects or sepcific publishers, even breaking down into sub-sections such as the Guardian’s tech section, the Telegraph sports section etc. Each article is presented within the app, with “related topics” stapled to the bottom of pieces, allowing you to add to your chosen feeds, and, um, up the noise. Oh.
And finally, Zite. It plugs into your Twitter account and chooses the subjects it thinks you are interested in. It was fairly spot on for me, offering travel, tech, social media, journalism, world news and a few others, which I added to. From there, your topics are arranged horizontally – swipe to see the next batch. Swipe, swipe, swipety swipe…
I like. But I’ve already made things a bit noisy. And perhaps therein lies a problem. Your noise-reduction app is, ultimately, only as good as your noise-reducing discipline. These things are supposed to dampen our habits, like methadone for the interweb, muffling the babble, but I managed to make them into mini cacophonies within hours of downloading. Must try harder.
And, just to add to the irony, I’ve started working on my own little noise reducer, more on which soon. There’s a market in stemming the flood, and I predict it will soon be flooded.
*Please note that I am well aware of just how wanky the word curautomation is. Let’s get it trending and then gamify** the shit out of it.
**Please note that I am well aware how how wanky the word gamify is. Let’s get it trending and cloudify*** the shit out of it.
***Please note that I am … ok I’ll stop now. For more wanky words, click here.