Brad Feld

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I Need A News Feed For My News Feeds

Mar 24, 2008
Category Technology

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.