In recent months, a host of startups have arisen that help keep me informed about my friends' information habits.
We've gone far beyond the days when we could simply follow people via
RSS or Twitter...now our RSS readers and Twitter homepages are so choked
with information that we generally only view a tiny subset.
regularly visit only three of my Google Reader folders: People,
Delicious, and Basketball. The ironically named "High Priority News"
hasn't been visited in years. Same for "High Priority" and "Daily
What do my three lucky feeds have in common? Through
very different mechanisms, they provide a high signal-to-noise ratio in a
The People folder includes only a few selected friends; this allows me to actually read all of their posts.
The Delicious folder includes links from my two good friends, Ben Casnocha and Ramit Sethi, and are a great source of interesting information on some of my favorite topics.
The Basketball folder feeds my obsession with my favorite sport.
The first generation of aggregators simply created a firehose...and it's apparent this isn't sustainable.
The second generation includes things like Summify (bought by Twitter)
which sends me a daily email digest of the links and tweets that are
most popular with my friends. I actually find these very useful, and
they are a part of my daily information diet.
But I'm starting
to see some third generation aggregators that are going down precisely the wrong path. These products put the emphasis on discovery, and are
even more of a firehose than their first-generation predecessors.
Privacy concerns aside, I don't want to know all the articles my
friends are reading--I only want to know the ones they care about enough
to save to Delicious or tweet about.
Giving me direct access to their reading habits is a bug, not a feature. I want less information, not more.