If you have an iPad or pay any attention at all to iPad apps, then you’ve probably at least heard of Flipboard, an app that puts your social media things into a magazine-style layout. It’s another one of those apps that turns iPad owners into commission-free iPad salespeople. Flipboard is gorgeous to look at and fun use. But as Ben Brooks notes, that’s not enough for the power user:
Essentially my problem with FlipBoard is that it does too good of a job curating the content it displays. That was true at least until the most recent update, as you can now link FlipBoard to Google Reader — all of your RSS subscriptions displayed in FlipBoard.
That maybe a pretty cool feature for people that subscribe to just a handful of sites, but when you subscribe to more than 500 and are getting around 50-100 new items each hour — well flipping through virtual pages becomes highly inefficient.
Whether we’re talking about hundreds of RSS feeds or hundreds of Twitter followers, the fact remains: A chronologically-sorted, linear view isn’t that practical.
When can I sort by popularity?
I want to be clear: I’m certainly not knocking Flipboard. It’s truly amazing that it can do what it does in such a beautiful fashion, and it keeps getting better.
But the Flipboard I want is one that can rank, sort, and display content based on the human filtering that takes place in Twitter. I want a Flipboard that truly runs on curation.
As of the writing of this post, I’m following about 760 folks on Twitter. That’s far more than I can digest as a normal human with normal priorities.
So most of what gets posted in my main Twitter timeline goes missed. My goal is not – and never will be – to see every single thing that’s posted by those I follow. But what I’m tired of missing are the patterns.
When someone posts a link on Twitter, they’re essentially giving it a thumbs up – a “like” if you will. In isolation, this is insignificant; in aggregate, it becomes quite powerful.
I tend to follow people on Twitter whose tastes – in varying degrees – overlap mine. If, say, 20 people post the same link in my timeline in the last day or so, I’d like to see that link first when I enter an app like Flipboard. I'd still like to know who shared it and when, but those factors are secondary to popularity of the content.
This is really about outsourcing
In essence, I want an app that really lets me outsource the process of gathering news and information. And who better to employ for this purpose than those whose interests align with mine?
If an app could get really good at this, I could significantly cull the number of feeds I watch in my RSS reader. I could eliminate a lot of time spent looking for information without really sacrificing the quality and quantity of what I consume.
I know that social bookmarking services have already attempted to solve this problem, but I've never really been into social bookmarking. And since the information already exists in my Twitter timeline, I'd like to make use of it.
If this service already exists somewhere and I've missed it, I'm sure you'll let me know. I'd also like to hear about any ways you reduce the time you spend looking for information by leveraging human filtering.