I hung out with Lili Cheng on Tuesday and we talked about various aspects of social software and weblogging technologies. She showed me Wallop while I showed her RSS Bandit and we were both suitably impressed by each other. She liked the fact that in RSS Bandit you can view weblogs as conversations while I liked the fact that unlike other social software I've seen Wallop embraced blogging and content syndication.

We both felt there was more to social software than projects like Orkut and she had an interesting insight; Orkut and tools like it turned the dreary process of creating a contact list into something fun. And that's about it. I thought to myself that if a tool like Outlook allowed me to create contact lists in an Orkut-style manner instead of the tedious process that exists today that would really a killer feature. She also showed me a number of other research projects created by the Microsoft Research Social Computing Group. The one I liked best was MSR connections which can infer the relationships between people based on public information exposed via Active Directory. The visualizations produced were very interesting and quite accurate as well.  She also showed me a project called Visual Summaries which implemented an idea similar to Don Park's Friendship Circle using automatically inferred information.

One of the things Lili pointed out to me about aggregators and blogging is that people like to share links and other information with friends. She asked about how RSS Bandit enables that I mentioned the ability to export feed lists to OPML and email people blog posts as well as the ability to invoke w.bloggar from RSS Bandit. This did get me to thinking that we should do more in this space. One piece of low hanging fruit is that users should be able to export a category in their feed list to OPML instead of being limited to the exporting the whole feedlist since they only want to share a subset of their feed. I have this problem because my boss has asked to try out my feed list but I've hesitated to send it to him since I know I subscribe to a bunch of stuff he won't find relevant. I also find some of the ideas in Joshua Allen's post about FOAF + De.licio.us  to be very interesting if you substitute browser integration with RSS Bandit integration. He wrote  

To clarify, by better browser integration I meant mostly integration with the de.licio.us functionality.  For example, here are some of the things I would like to see:

·         Access to my shared bookmarks from directly in the favorites menu of IE; and adding to favorites from IE automatically adds to de.licio.us (I’m aware of the bookmarklet)

·         When browsing a page, any hyperlinks in the page which are also entries in your friends’ favorites lists would be emphasized with stronger or larger typeface

·         When browsing a page, some subtle UI cue would be given for pages that are in your friends’ favorites lists

·         When visiting a page that is in your favorites list, you could check a toolbar button to make the page visible to friends only, everyone, or nobody

·         When visiting a page which appears in other people’s favorites, provide a way to get at recommendations “your friends who liked this page also liked these other pages”, or “your friends recommend these pages instead of the one you are visiting”

I honestly think the idea becomes much more compelling when you share all page visits, and not just favorites.  You can cluster, find people who have similar tastes or even people who have opposite tastes.  And the “trace paths” could be much more useful

Ahhh, so many ideas yet so little free time. :)


Friday, March 19, 2004 9:41:23 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Have you seen http://www.stumbleupon.com? It almost does the last 3 items in the list above. It's also a very fun way to find new pages relevant to my interests.
Kevin Greiner
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