Let's Build Something

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Maria Popova once joked that it seemed as though we’d “reached a cultural point at which every time someone uses the word ‘curation‘ in reference to content and publishing, an actual museum curator kills a kitten”. Yet it does seem that curation is becoming more important than ever, and that the growing surfeit of content means that the people and tools that help us get to the good stuff quicker and easier are more useful than ever. The challenge is how we do that. For every individual there is a different view on what defines ‘good’, and that in itself shifts according to context. My own opinion is that combinations of different types of content curation (the three pillars being professional, algorithmic, and social) work best to get us to that place. 

One of the (many) great things about Twitter is that it’s such an excellent source of great links and content. But most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting on Twitter all day so it’s easy to miss the good stuff. Having something that showed me the most interesting links and updates that have been shared whilst I’ve been away (or shared by people I follow in different time zones) would be wonderfully useful. Lots of people have had a go at this. Twitter itself has it’s Discover tab and the ‘Tweets for you’. Kottke created Stellar. There’s aggregators like Paper.li. I’m sure all of these have their place and inevitably we will use more than one tool, but there is nothing that quite nails it for me. The closest is probably Percolate but that has since pivoted to become a business tool (and seemingly an excellent one at that).

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a go at building something to tackle this problem? I was talking to James Haycock who runs Adaptive Lab about this and he thought so too, so we’re going to do just that. I’m rather happy to be partnering with Adaptive Lab – they are a ‘skunkworks for hire’, a very smart group of creative technologists, developers and data specialists that collaborate with companies large and small (including ASOS and YouGov) to create innovative new products and services (check them out). It occurred to both James and I that a service such as this would be useful for the readers of this blog so we thought we’d make the process of building it as open as possible, and involve you in helping to shape something that you could then go on to use. It will make the process fun and really interesting, and I was a fan of the way in which MadeByMany blogged the development process of the Picle app. So I’ll be blogging updates as we go, and asking for feedback that can help us to create something that is as useful as possible for everyone. I’ll also be including updates on my weekly email, so if you want to make sure you don’t miss out you can sign up here.

I’m rather excited to see what we might build together. So far, we have a working project title – Fraggl (nothing to do with these definitions of ‘Fraggle‘), and have defined the problem we are trying to solve thus:

It’s impossible to be on Twitter 24 hours a day. Most of us dip in and out when we have a spare few minutes. So how can I make sure that I don’t miss out on the great content shared by the people I follow? I want a way to regularly see the most useful, interesting, stimulating, original and links that have been shared amongst the people I like on Twitter. And I’d like those links to be as relevant as possible to my interests.  No existing service does this well enough for me.

A one-sentence elevator pitch is: The service that ensures you never miss the most useful content shared by people who are interested in the same things you are.

We have a few ideas as to how we propose to do this which we’ll share, but for now, what we’d really like to know is this:

Is this a problem worth solving?


As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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