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Using friends as filters


How often do friends send links to you via IM or email?
How often do think about a friend when you stumble on an interesting web page and want to share it with him?

Friends can act as great filters, by picking the stuff they know is relevant to you. They already tend to do so very naturally.
Why not use distributed brain power to go beyond the number of RSS feeds you can follow at once, by making these scenarios simple and efficient?

Here is a suggestion for integrating RSS feeds with social networks: why not allow my buddies (in a certain social network like say MSN Messenger or Orkut) to send me links that would queue up in a special feed that I would receive?
The implementation wouldn't be very difficult (either use a bookmarklet, custom browser context menu or simple plugin). It would open a popup to quickly select some buddies, input a little comment (prefilled with the link name or page title) and send it to their feed.
A technical issue is that you need to be signed in, so that the list of your friends may be displayed in the popup.

The same could be done with email instead of RSS, just with a different interruption model.
Some processing may be done on the feed to group items on related topics.
This system would let me "send myself" links that I want to keep in my stack for later checking.

There is another fundamental problem which is interoperability between friend networks. The same way that the MSN and AOL messenger currently aren't connected, MSN buddies and Orkut friends are separate social networks.

FOAF + discusses a similar idea, except that the relevant is implicit or inferred instead of explicit. But not all links followed by my friends are more relevant to me, so I still like the idea of streamlining manual recommendations better.

Zephoria on RSS feeds for friend recommendations.

A tutorial on using Messenger's buddy list and other APIs.


Jyte, an RSS and news reader, already has that feature under development. The current version has a menu option to mail articles to friends within the program; in a few weeks, the functionality to drag articles to a folder that will then be published to any friends who want it will be included. The long-term concept is to give users the ability to create multiple custom article feeds for various groups of friends and colleagues. I'm glad you're interested in this feature b/c we've been considering making it a priority ;)

Posted by: gisarah (March 19, 2004 12:29 AM)
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