Is FeedHub the answer to information overload?

I’ve been playing with mSpoke’s FeedHub, releasing today at the Demo Conference. I’ll have a video up later today demonstrating the product.

Dan Farber has a review and info up on his ZDNet blog.

I’ve been interested i this topic for some time. Right now I’m reading 848 feeds for my link blog in Google Reader. I’m way overloaded with feeds. Now, imagine I only had 10 minutes a day to catch up on my feeds, how would I do that?

Well, the answer up to now was TechMeme or one of its sisters.

TechMeme actually works great. Tracks thousands of news feeds and every few minutes it remeasures which ones are most important. Problem is that TechMeme only covers tech news. Its sister sites cover gossip, or regular news/politics, or baseball.

But what about 800 custom feeds that you hand picked?

Well, that’s what FeedHub is aimed at.

You put your feeds into it and FeedHub will pick the best stuff to show you out of those feeds.

One problem: for me it doesn’t work. It doesn’t pick the stuff I’d really like to read from my feeds. Almost none of the items match my link blog, for instance.

Now, keep in mind that you’re not supposed to judge FeedHub by its first results. You’re supposed to train it. By using the feed items and clicking on the ones you like, and voting up certain topics, over time it will start bringing ou a lot more stuff that matches your interests.

That’s cool, but I haven’t gotten to that level of commitment with it yet to find out if it really works that well.

I really want to believe in it, though, because I think something like this holds some major keys to information overload and giving us a “custom TechMeme.”

I’ll keep playing with this and see if I can get it to work well for me.

Some other concerns:

1. How big a market is there for a “custom TechMeme?” Not too many people I know are trying to read hundreds of feeds. Certainly not many busy executives who are looking for alternatives.
2. How will they make money? Advertising in the feed items? That’ll make reusing them far less popular and, even, could add its own new noise that’d offset the time savings.
3. What will they do with the attention information they are collecting? Let’s assume that they’ll get everyone who reads feeds to use it, well, then they’ll know more about us and our behavior than even Google does today.

How about you? Any of you playing with this? Are you looking for ways to subscribe to new feeds and get a custom Techmeme?

Oh, one more caveat. It takes up to a day to start working. So if you just try it for a few minutes you’ll have a totally unsatisfactory experience.

UPDATE: Got the videos up here.

Comments

  1. One thought on how they could make cash, and of course no one will like it: By getting trained, FeedHub is getting to know you very intimately. Selling this information to Doubleclick or GOOG could be a very profitable venture as targeted marketing fodder.

    Just a thought.

  2. One thought on how they could make cash, and of course no one will like it: By getting trained, FeedHub is getting to know you very intimately. Selling this information to Doubleclick or GOOG could be a very profitable venture as targeted marketing fodder.

    Just a thought.

  3. It’s probably worth keeping an eye on Yahoo in this area, too. Back at the start of the year they acquired the assets of SearchFox, which had a pretty nice personalized RSS reader.

    I used the searchfox reader for several months and thought it was quite good; the only big concern I had was my usual (not specific to searchfox) “personalization” worry: in the absence of input from other sources, how quickly do you end up with a personal echo chamber, where you get more and more of what you’re already interested in, and less and less of everything else that’s interesting but outside your normal scope?

    Not a killer problem, since there are a variety of ways around it, but worth noting.

  4. It’s probably worth keeping an eye on Yahoo in this area, too. Back at the start of the year they acquired the assets of SearchFox, which had a pretty nice personalized RSS reader.

    I used the searchfox reader for several months and thought it was quite good; the only big concern I had was my usual (not specific to searchfox) “personalization” worry: in the absence of input from other sources, how quickly do you end up with a personal echo chamber, where you get more and more of what you’re already interested in, and less and less of everything else that’s interesting but outside your normal scope?

    Not a killer problem, since there are a variety of ways around it, but worth noting.

  5. Hi Robert,

    I’m really sorry that it hasn’t delivered the value for you yet.

    One new feature in today’s release is you can actually give FeedHub your linkblog as part of your digital identity. This may help it learn more quickly about your interests.

    You can do this by visiting the ‘my profile’ page once logged into your FeedHub account.

    – Sean

    You can see a screen shot on Richard’s R/WW Post http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/feedhub_individualized_rss_feeds.php

  6. Hi Robert,

    I’m really sorry that it hasn’t delivered the value for you yet.

    One new feature in today’s release is you can actually give FeedHub your linkblog as part of your digital identity. This may help it learn more quickly about your interests.

    You can do this by visiting the ‘my profile’ page once logged into your FeedHub account.

    – Sean

    You can see a screen shot on Richard’s R/WW Post http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/feedhub_individualized_rss_feeds.php

  7. Tackling Information Overload

    Scoble (who is so well known among bloggers that he doesn’t have a first name anymore) writes about information overload today. One of the points he makes is that he’s subscribed to so many feeds that it would be impossible to read them all if he onl…

  8. Conversations seem to become stagnant as we develop deeper information overload problems. We stop seeking new information as we try to deal with the information we already receive. If this softwear frees me up to continue finding new and better conversations, then perhaps it is wort a try. If on the other hand it becomes another time consuming attention grabber requiring continuos grooming, why bother?

    How much of my time investment will it require before it knows me?

  9. Conversations seem to become stagnant as we develop deeper information overload problems. We stop seeking new information as we try to deal with the information we already receive. If this softwear frees me up to continue finding new and better conversations, then perhaps it is wort a try. If on the other hand it becomes another time consuming attention grabber requiring continuos grooming, why bother?

    How much of my time investment will it require before it knows me?

  10. Wouldn’t moving to this format makes most people’s echo chamber even smaller? Even with TechMeme and random surfing I only see a fraction of the great stuff out there. I like bumping into *new* sites and people and topics so my favorite tools are those that let us bounce around from person to person (MyBlogLog, Yahoo Mash’s new conversation feature, etc)

  11. Wouldn’t moving to this format makes most people’s echo chamber even smaller? Even with TechMeme and random surfing I only see a fraction of the great stuff out there. I like bumping into *new* sites and people and topics so my favorite tools are those that let us bounce around from person to person (MyBlogLog, Yahoo Mash’s new conversation feature, etc)

  12. I’ve been a beta tester for FeedHub for the past few months. I suppose now that they’ve launched I’m allowed to talk about it.

    First off I love what they’re attempting to do and wish them all the best of luck. Also, my experiences are based on the pre-release evolution of the product, so it may very well be getting better (in fact I’m sure it is).

    My experience with the recommendation engine was that it certainly cut down on the posts I saw, but even after months of training never really chose the ones I would have wanted it to. I can’t fault it too much for this, correctly filtering to an individual’s taste is a really tough problem that to my knowledge has never been solved well.

    Unfortunately, I have not gotten to the point with FeedHub where I could just look at my feedhub feed, and not feel I was missing what I really wanted to be reading.

    While I appreciate their efforts to make the product work from within your existing feed reader, I think it would make the product much more compelling if they built a Google Reader-esque browser tailored specifically to the product. Or offered a firefox plugin which customized the Google Reader interface.

  13. I’ve been a beta tester for FeedHub for the past few months. I suppose now that they’ve launched I’m allowed to talk about it.

    First off I love what they’re attempting to do and wish them all the best of luck. Also, my experiences are based on the pre-release evolution of the product, so it may very well be getting better (in fact I’m sure it is).

    My experience with the recommendation engine was that it certainly cut down on the posts I saw, but even after months of training never really chose the ones I would have wanted it to. I can’t fault it too much for this, correctly filtering to an individual’s taste is a really tough problem that to my knowledge has never been solved well.

    Unfortunately, I have not gotten to the point with FeedHub where I could just look at my feedhub feed, and not feel I was missing what I really wanted to be reading.

    While I appreciate their efforts to make the product work from within your existing feed reader, I think it would make the product much more compelling if they built a Google Reader-esque browser tailored specifically to the product. Or offered a firefox plugin which customized the Google Reader interface.

  14. I’ve been using FeedHub since yesterday. So far, it’s doing a decent job of picking big stories. I don’t think it has a chance of picking the stories I would want personally (I look for very specific things in my rss feeds) but I do like the idea of seeing what the “major” stories are for the day.

    I still have to go through all my RSS feeds one by one to get the perspectives of different bloggers and find the specific information that I’m looking for. But if I miss a day or I don’t have a lot of time, I can use FeedHub + TechMeme to catch up.

    I think one of the best ways to use it is to exclude all of your non tech blogs, cause TechMeme is pretty good at that already.

  15. I’ve been using FeedHub since yesterday. So far, it’s doing a decent job of picking big stories. I don’t think it has a chance of picking the stories I would want personally (I look for very specific things in my rss feeds) but I do like the idea of seeing what the “major” stories are for the day.

    I still have to go through all my RSS feeds one by one to get the perspectives of different bloggers and find the specific information that I’m looking for. But if I miss a day or I don’t have a lot of time, I can use FeedHub + TechMeme to catch up.

    I think one of the best ways to use it is to exclude all of your non tech blogs, cause TechMeme is pretty good at that already.

  16. A little bit of an ad here, but hopefully relevant…

    We have a “prioritization” feature in our reader, FeedGhost, that allows you to read articles in the order that they matter to you. You can assign these priorities manually, let FeedGhost “learn” your reading preferences (which won’t be instant, obviously), or add “boost” keywords to bring particular subjects to your attention.

    It’s a neat feature on the days when you’re too busy to read everything, and you can just get rid of all your low priority articles, and be sure you haven’t missed anything terribly important.

    (Windows only though I’m afraid).

  17. A little bit of an ad here, but hopefully relevant…

    We have a “prioritization” feature in our reader, FeedGhost, that allows you to read articles in the order that they matter to you. You can assign these priorities manually, let FeedGhost “learn” your reading preferences (which won’t be instant, obviously), or add “boost” keywords to bring particular subjects to your attention.

    It’s a neat feature on the days when you’re too busy to read everything, and you can just get rid of all your low priority articles, and be sure you haven’t missed anything terribly important.

    (Windows only though I’m afraid).

  18. RSS から興味のある記事だけを自動的に探すサービス、FeedHub

    Is FeedHub the answer to information overload? | Scobolizer
    毎日何百もの RSS フィードを読む Robert Scoble が RSS を個人の嗜好にあわせて自動的に面白い記事とつまらない記事にわけてくれる FeedHub という…

  19. FeedHub almost solves RSS Infoglut

    A new feed digestion service FeedHub is attempting to solve RSS Infoglut. By RSS Infoglut, I mean not being able to keep up with the all the posts that show up in your feed reader. I recently posted a proposed solution to subscribing to more feeds than…

  20. Hi Ben,

    I recently joined mSpoke to work on the relevancy aspects of FeedHub. I’m sorry to hear that FeedHub hasn’t been performing up to your expectations.

    It would be extremely helpful for me if we could talk some about which items you’d have liked FeedHub deliver to you that it has failed to deliver. You can contact me at pogilvie@mspoke.com .

  21. Hi Ben,

    I recently joined mSpoke to work on the relevancy aspects of FeedHub. I’m sorry to hear that FeedHub hasn’t been performing up to your expectations.

    It would be extremely helpful for me if we could talk some about which items you’d have liked FeedHub deliver to you that it has failed to deliver. You can contact me at pogilvie@mspoke.com .

  22. [...] asmeninio asistento neturiu, o su Yahoo Pipes! ar kitomis tarnybomis didelės sėkmės nepatyriau. FeedHub bent jau teoriškai turėtų pagelbėti su prenumeratomis anglų kalba. Iš esmės tai yra „apmokoma“ (nors niekur neteigiama, kad dirbtinio intelekto) RSS filtravimo [...]

  23. I’ve tried out feedhub for the past 48 hours – here’s how I got on.

    I currently read 38 feeds and that will probably increase over time. I’d like to cut out some of the stuff that isn’t applicable to me.

    Therefore this seemed perfect, so I tried it out and gave it 48 hours to see if it lived up to the hype.

    I had to lose all my previous read posts, apart from the starred, shared or otherwise tagged ones to begin with – this was a little annoying
    It took 36 hours before it started working (could have been a bit less, as it might have started working overnight)
    Displayed very badly on my mobile (where I do most of my reading)
    Updated irregularly
    Lots of bugs in terms of items actually displaying via google reader (e.g. claimed there were only 6 unread posts when there were 41)
    I had a few problems adding customised memes on their site
    Their site kept logging me out during the time I was on there – which was frustrating
    All posts showed up as “john’s personalised feed” instead of telling me who they were from, and as the source of a story is pretty important this was frustrating

    All in all, I found there were too many bugs for me to carry on using it, so I’ve resubscribed to all those rss feeds via google reader directly.

    Great idea, but just not executed well enough yet.

  24. I’ve tried out feedhub for the past 48 hours – here’s how I got on.

    I currently read 38 feeds and that will probably increase over time. I’d like to cut out some of the stuff that isn’t applicable to me.

    Therefore this seemed perfect, so I tried it out and gave it 48 hours to see if it lived up to the hype.

    I had to lose all my previous read posts, apart from the starred, shared or otherwise tagged ones to begin with – this was a little annoying
    It took 36 hours before it started working (could have been a bit less, as it might have started working overnight)
    Displayed very badly on my mobile (where I do most of my reading)
    Updated irregularly
    Lots of bugs in terms of items actually displaying via google reader (e.g. claimed there were only 6 unread posts when there were 41)
    I had a few problems adding customised memes on their site
    Their site kept logging me out during the time I was on there – which was frustrating
    All posts showed up as “john’s personalised feed” instead of telling me who they were from, and as the source of a story is pretty important this was frustrating

    All in all, I found there were too many bugs for me to carry on using it, so I’ve resubscribed to all those rss feeds via google reader directly.

    Great idea, but just not executed well enough yet.