For all the good it’s capable of, Twitter is all too often a cacophonous mess of marketers, celebrities, talking heads, and friends who all like to jabber at the same time. Sage Wohns and Mohamed Altantawy are co-founders of a New York startup called Agolo, and as far as they’re concerned, not every bit of information pouring forth from that social firehose is worth paying attention to. Instead, they want to home in on just the stuff that’s important to you and make sure you see if before it’s too far gone to catch up with.
Sounds logical enough. After all, if you’re up to your neck in a Twitter debate centered around, I don’t know, whether the Palm Pre was a bigger smartphone flop than the BlackBerry Z10, you’re probably not going to pay much attention to the snarky quips your followers are flinging at each other. That’s where Agolo comes in.
Co-founder Sage Wohns showed me an incredibly early version of Agolo several months ago, and it bears very little resemblance to the service the team ultimately hopes to bring to the masses. The original concept saw users tweeting the @agolo Twitter account asking for advice on local venues and happenings — as long as you defined a location in the tweet or enabled the proper location settings, you’d almost immediately receive a reply with three of the most popular options nearby.
To their credit, the service still works rather well (I used it to track down some lunch the other day), but the pair have bet the startup’s future on the notion that people often miss the things that they care most about because of the sheer volume of tweets being sent and delivered every second. It’s madness. But Wohns and Altantawy are conducting a private beta for the new Agolo, which quietly keeps tabs on your Twitter followers, the people you follow, and the things you talk about the most.
By gathering that information and chewing on it with the help of some clever natural language processing algorithms, Agolo is able to cobble together a profile of you that includes your preferred topics of conversation and the sorts of events that you like. The real gist of the revamped Agolo is that it’s able to sift through all that stuff in realtime, so you’re ultimately left with a mobile web app (native apps are said to be in the works) displaying a curated feed of tweets that align with what Agolo thinks your interests are.
If you’re a big music fan for instance, all of your friends’ tweets mentioning upcoming concerts will be flagged for your perusal. There’s one more hook, though: while the service highlights relevant conversations and events that you may otherwise miss, the team also wants to make it easy to take action. Going back to that concert example, Agolo will be able to provide links to ticket vendors so users can close the loop that much faster.
Sounds like a pretty natural way to make money, right? Since Agolo can highlight certain trends or events and make it easy for users to jump in and engage with them, Wohns said that they’re starting to build up “key affiliate partnerships to monetize some of the actions we recommend.”
At this point though, there’s one major drawback to the Agolo system — it only works with Twitter. It’s not a bad place to start considering how the service facilitates conversations and sharing at a breakneck pace, but it only accounts for a fraction of the social conversations that take place at any given moment. Ultimately, the small team hopes to be able to digest Facebook and LinkedIn messages, along with that bane of my existence: email. I suspect it’ll be quite some time before they manage to get that far, but they may just be on the right track.