It is becoming clear that activity streams are taking hold as the default communications interface across a wide variety of social networks and media, from Twitter to Facebook to FriendFeed to Bebo and beyond. Yet the more people we try to keep track of in one consolidated feed, the more noise we have to deal with that increasingly threatens to drown out those golden information nuggets we all seek. So it is appropriate that today’s Elevator Pitch comes from Smallaa, a startup that aims to help people sort and categorize their streams by interests.
Smalla is still in private beta, but TechCrunch readers can sign up with the promotion code c3p0. When you sign up, you can bring in your FriendFeed stream. (Integration with Facebook is scheduled for April 23, and then Twitter will come after that). Your regular FreindFeed stream appears in a column on the right.
You also pick what interests you want to follow. For instance, I picked “Internet Startups,” “Technology,” “Google,” and “Unusual Things.” I could have also picked “best Photos,” “Pets,” “Formula 3 Racing,” “home,” or I could have created my own topics. Those selections create an interest stream on the left. This is the main Smaalla stream.
There are two ways you can inject something into the Smallaa stream. You can add it directly as a comment, link, video, or picture and assign it to an interest category when you place it into the stream. (Smallaa asks “What’s going on in your interests?” That could probably be clearer. A simple, “What are you intersted in?” would do.) The second way to inject items into the Smallaa stream is to assign them directly from the FriendFeed stream on the right (which will expand in the future to include Facebook and other streams as well).
For instance, Robert Scoble just wrote a post and did a video trying to explain why Mike is wrong about FriendFeed because of its superior mechansims for picking out signal to noise compared to Twitter. Scoble is particularly enamored with FriendFeed because he can pick out what’s interesting based on how many comments an item gets or how many people liked it. Yet with Smalla, I can simply grab the link to Scoble’s post from my FriendFeed stream and assign it to my “Technology” interest in Smallla. I trust what Scoble has to say about technology, so I pay attention to that, but I can ignore his comments about how awesome it is to live in Half Moon Bay.
Now, everybody in Smalla following with an interest in technology will see that link to Scoble’s post and any comments I have about it (unless they choose to view only items from people they follow in Smalla). The relationship between Smallaa and other services is reciprocal. When I add a post to Smallla, it appears in FriendFeed as well. And whenever you assign an item from a friend in another service, it prompts you to invite them to follow the particular interest you are assigning their item to in Smallla. Finally, as another way to figure out who to pay attention to, for each item in your Smallaa feed, it shows you how many people are following the person who posted it in that category. So again, to pick on Scoble, he might quickly gain the most followers in technology but not so many in fashion. Hopefully, this would create a reinforcing feedback loop which would encourage Scoble to write and share more about technology and less about his favorite pair of pants.
Or as Smalla CEO and founder Tim Lai says in the Elevator Pitch video below, it would be great to follow what Bill Clinton has to say about “politicians or giving public speeches without ever being distracted if he has anything to say about honesty and family values.” Lai built and sold his first software company in Hong Kong, an enterprise document management company called Paradigm, before moving to California. He has invested $3 million of his own money to start Smalllaa.
His pitch would probably have been less confusing if he explained why he is sitting in a racing car at the beginning, but he comes around to that in the end. If you would like your startup to be featured on TechCrunch, submit your Elevator Pitch.