Developer Challenge: Create A Crowd Managed Feed Reader

There’s a business opportunity for whoever wants to innovate. Since I don’t build products myself, I’ll just tell you what I’m looking for as I see a market need. If you build it, kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll amend the post. I have a feeling that it will emerge in a few days, or an existing company will add these features.

Pain point
Finding people on Twitter, then following them is already a challenge. Sharing your hard earned list takes time. I deal with a lot of executives at companies, that want to quickly scan the topics in their industry, or see what their employees, customers, and competitors are doing. Searching by keyword isn’t sufficient. Carter Lusher has this large Twitter list of analysts, but in order to see their streams, adding each one is a manual process.

Who’s it for?
People that don’t have time to fiddle with finding people on twitter, then sharing with others. It’s quite possible this could be for people who want to spectate Twitter, but may not want to participate. This could end up being a tickertape in some executives office. (Update: Best Buy has done something similar)

Potential Use Case
Here’s some potential uses: I want to track all analysts in my industry, then I could my executives a single URL so they can observe. Or, give a sales rep a single webpage to see all the tweets coming out of their client. Or allow a professional to quickly track all their industry counterparts tweets. I don’t want to have to manually manage the list (adding and removing members myself) so the crowd should be able to submit, but a smaller group of admins could verify and allow it to happen.

What it should do:

Allow anyone to create a public stream of Twitter users, later it could evolve to include blogs and articles. For example, if I wanted to create a feed of just Web Designers, or VCs, or my colleagues. Recently, Alltop created the ability to create a customized lens, that’s the right direction, but just do this for tweets. It should all be in a single stream, so it’s easier to track the zeitgeist.

It should allow members to submit themselves to these lists, or allow anyone to volunteer others. Although I’m familiar with Kevin Rose’s WeFollow, it requires users to self-submit, bloglines requires a single individual to manage the list –that’s not scalable.. Tweetburn is the Twitter version of Alltop, but doesn’t have customized list ability (they say it’s coming) I’d rather make it social so the community (or admins) can manage. Fernando just created this public friendfeed example, but it doesn’t allow these features.

Have administrative controls. In order to keep the lists free of spammers or wannabees in categories, there should be permissions that still allow for the crowd to submit names, but a moderator(s) to manage.

It should be public. I’m well versed with Friendfeed, but I don’t see any features that allow me to share my “colleague” feed with the world.

Be easy to use. Especially for busy professionals who just want to monitor. Yahoo pipes is too geeky, Friendfeed is for edgelings, and Twitter search doesn’t have the above features.

Have further features that allow very large feeds to segment by a variety of filters perhaps by location, popularity, and other metadata. This is a nice to have.

Aggregate then prioritize. Feeds on their own are a bit messy, if you’re not in front of in real-time you may miss something. This feature should bubble up the most important tweets based on popularity or weight. Techmeme, Tagclouds, Friendfeed’s ‘best of day’ all have some of these features. This is a nice to have, but should be on the roadmap.

Thanks for this, I see a business need for this (btw, go read my posts on social crm, or think about the data analysis, or fall back on advertising), as I speak to many companies and executives that are trying to get a sense of what’s happening in Twitter, but don’t have time to jump in. Help them to survey the seascape and you could create a business out of this.

Also, take a step back. This is interesting, I started this call for product request on Twitter, didn’t see it, then am blogging it. It’s an example of how products in the future could be built, now imagine if there was a formal system.

Leave a comment if you’ve feature ideas for this, or you’ve seen something that does it.

35 Replies to “Developer Challenge: Create A Crowd Managed Feed Reader”

  1. Great post Jeremiah, and absolutely in agreement with you.

    What I see differently, is that in my eyes this is NOT an opportunity for building a tool that does what you describe and then making money around it, but rather it is an opportunity for individual analysts, consultants, experts to create such newsradars themselves (with whatever tools they are most comfortable with) and to monetize the value created in one of the many possible ways (sponsorship, subscription, contextual ads, etc.).

    Does my way of thinking around the “newsmastering” concept (I just commented on another article of yours) make any sense to you?

  2. Yup, that’s possible too. The point I’m making here is that not everyone will create ‘newsradars’ so we have to crowdsource some of the aggregation.

    What if Twitter created an “OPML” of some sort that allowed reader lists to be shared. Then a third party developer could aggregate that list of people in a community (like data storage) and then create a zeitgeist.

    I can think of a variety of ways this could be accomplished.

  3. I agree with the general need, but I suspect busy executives won’t have much interest in wading through the stream of relevant and irrelevant tweets, cryptic shortened URLs, and out-of-context conversation snippets. With that in mind, I was floating a related idea to deliver a synthesis of the twitter conversations around a particular topic area. Here’s my approach:

  4. We are working on this at VCfeeds although at the moment the service is read only as far as users are concerned. Will keep you posted on our progress.

    An extension of the idea is to allow for feeds to feed into each other: so for example the “ycombinator founders” and “seedcamp founders” feeds could be combined into a single “start-up founders” feed.

  5. Lee, I’m not going to pay anything for this, this is an opportunity for someone else to build something useful. I’m simply stating a market need.

    But if I had to, it would be a few thousand dollars for a developer and designer to create.

  6. Seems like you’re describing a kind of “playlist” for Twitter. As I’m sure you know, several kinds of playlists are popular with music. Ones from your friends or experts or celebs. Ones based on musicology like Pandora. Crowdsourced ones. Why not think about what has worked for music, and adapt it to Twitter and RSS feeds and such? I think something like Pandora’s playlists would be useful, but there’s too much volume for human analysts to assign tags to everything. I don’t generally want to listen to what “the crowd” recommends though – I want an expert with my taste to guide me to the best stuff. That is what I suspect busy executives might want as well. Kind of like what people pay Forrester to do, no? And you said you don’t do product? 🙂

  7. I think you might want to take another look at Friendfeed. Their ‘Rooms’ feature is pretty darn close to what you want. In the current beta they’re positioning them as ‘feeds’.

    I’ve been experimenting with rolling up all kinds of feeds into one. Twitter users, twitter fav feeds, blog posts, a google reader ‘shared’ feed.
    Once the feed is created people can comment on individual items as well, or post snippets from items they found interesting.

    So far it’s just me using my ‘Room’, but others can subscribe and add new feeds to public Rooms as well. Or you can make the ‘Room’ private amongst your circle of collaborators.

    Friendfeed also provide reasonable admin tools if you want to control who can add, remove, or make changes to the feed sources.

    My simple example:

    On current friendfeed interface:
    As seen via friendfeed beta:

  8. I was thinking something like a “community” that users would join. That would actually be a nice feature for Twitter. You could then view a feed from a community and customize from there.

  9. Richard, you’re thinking bigger. Good.

    Right. It’s probably more similar to iLike, as specific people you know can filter out who should be in which twitter reader. A lot less like Pandora that relies on an unknown curator expert.

  10. Cant wait to talk with you in a couple weeks!

    I had a similar idea,, to crowdsource or “showcase” user recommended Tweeple. I created it in just a couple hours then paused to see the reaction of users before investing more time in adding features.

    Sadly, it was just me using for the most part.

    At the same point the whole #followfriday movement began and The shorty awards ( started picking up.

    The next step was adding basic need features along with some of the functionality I created in to let you ‘auto follow’ users in a particular ‘Twak’ – or in TopTweeple’s case in a keyword or ranked class.

    Another site worth a look is, it captures and ranks the links being shared right now by interesting folks. It categorizes by contributors as follows: Design & Development / Strategy & Trends / Advertising & Marketing. An “of the moment” aggregator. While its missing several key components, its interesting in the categorization.

    “Help them to survey the seascape and you could create a business out of this” – We’ll talk more about this in Orlando 🙂


  11. As PR working with clients in architecture, I would love to be able to monitor a twitter stream of journalists, bloggers.. which cover the topic, and might be relevant to me. (For start). To see what they are doing in real time, what’s are the stories they’re working on, so I can pitch them ‘appropriately’ and don’t need to follow them on my personal account. Sorted of a tuned neat playlist.

  12. Jeremiah, I totally agree. Two of my customers are working on similar ideas. The first is called Social Mavens. It tracks the top 20 topics for the to 20 mavens in each of 10 areas (Selected as Editors Pick). This includes their full stream: Twitter, Digg, ClikBall, Flickr, etc. It also allows the crowd to vote on their top 100 Mavens.

    Executive Mindshare is a combination LinkedIn/Digg for vertical industries. The first vertical is Pharma.

  13. Jeremiah,

    Thanks for posting this. I agree that this is a needed solution. As you know from our discussion a few weeks ago, we are working on an online collaboration platform designed to help social media teams and power users streamline participation in social networks with tools such as workflow management, personalized views, assignment, categorization, prioritization, notifications and tagging. Using this you will be able to create team spaces like you are describing that allow you to listen, organize and respond to social media conversations. Additionally, you will be able to invite others to participate so each user builds their own set of team spaces.

    The ability to create these team spaces will be freely available. I am looking forward to showing you the live system in a few weeks.


  14. I would guess the developers of the proposed application or anyone currently having an application based on twitter feeds would be concerned of suddenly being shut out. With blogs the feeds come from all over but with twitter it comes from only one source.

    Personally, as a web developer/entrepreneur this would concern me as make me think really hard about doing something based on twitter.

    Overall good idea Jeremiah.

  15. Hi Jeremiah,

    In your opinion, should the proposed app group the tweets in real time or should a server job be run to extract out the tweets at periodic intervals and populate into the group?

    I am looking at developing something similar to what you have stated in your blog and would be interested in your comments.


  16. I have been wanting this feature for ages. a way for information that is more relevant to you to bubble to the top.

    a quick and dirty way to do it now is to use reader like google reader. and add the RSS feeds of certain ppl into reader and categorise into folders. i’ve done this for some twitter accounts.

    i would like an app that can group conversations i.e. friends, industry analysts, news, etc…. you can sorta do that with tweetdeck if you create groups.

  17. Hey coz,

    Did you ever find a self-serve administered twitter feed aggregator? I’m hacking an imperfect one together right,just using twitter bot and create a central twitter account that autofollows and retweets (echos) all friends tweet through its own friend stream RSS. If I have to I’ll break out the python and slap something onto Google App Engine, but let me know first if someone somewhere built something better!


  18. I’m with inspiredworlds on this – feeding Tweets of fav Tweeps via RSS into Google Reader – did take time to set up – but worth it especially as can then tag tweets in googlereader – ” a quick and dirty way to do it now is to use reader like google reader. and add the RSS feeds of certain ppl into reader and categorise into folders. i™ve done this for some twitter accounts.”

  19. really really very informative article published for web . . there have been introducing on many points on web developer challenge, they have a lots things to include it to make their websites good for everyone . . thanks for extremely nice written

  20. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!|

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