There’s something I’ve been griping about for a long time (most recently to Adam Marsh on the first evening of Bar Camp): I read hundreds of feeds every day (320 as of today), and it takes frickin forever to go through it all. There is a better way to find good content in a massive number of posts from hundreds of feeds than clicking on each feed and screening it yourself. And I know what it is.
My idea? Automate the process, and return the results visually. A Tag Cloud is a perfect way to do this. Imagine if all of your unread feeds were scanned, keywords and/or tags were analyzed, and a tag cloud was created where you could see words with font size and boldness determined by how prominent they were in the posts. That way, you could just click on what you want to read, and ignore the fluff.
This appears to be what The Personal Bee (note: this site is down quite often) is experimenting with. Created by Nicholas Chim as a side project from his day job, Personal Bee has this to say about itself:
The Personal Bee is a “discovery engine” that helps you discover information from a collection of RSS feeds. In contrast, client-based RSS readers and web-based RSS aggregators merely catalog your RSS feeds. These tools are adequate if you subscribe to fewer than 5-10 news sources per topic of interest. Compared to RSS search engines, the Bee captures the latest “buzz words” in a topic area without requiring you to pre-specify search terms.
Adam Marsh tells me that Nicholas presented at Bar Camp, although I was not present at the session (thanks for passing this on Adam). I wish I was there. Personal Bee has a number of public feeds (see Web 2.0 for instance), and you can also register and create your own private or public feeds.
As you can see from the screenshot, a tag cloud is placed prominently in the left sidebar. Things like “Feedster 500” and “Pandora” are big – things I want to click on right away. When I do click on a word in the tag cloud, the relevant content is pulled.
Bloglines, Pluck, Rojo, Attensa, NewsGator, and others: Please note this application, and listen to your power users. There is a better way to show new data, and it is so easy to implement.
I’ll be playing around with this application a lot in the near future.