In a recent post I described how social filtering enables us to to enage with people, our trust filter, on what’s happening in the world and their world (experiences). This is augmented in a social network where we not only get information from people we choose to trust, but also are able to share links and directly talk to each other…plus discover and recommended new people and content via your trusted connections in the network.
The new step is moving from isolated RSS Readers where we subscribe and read content via our chosen social filter (subscriptions), to a social network where we connect directly with the author.
Now I can not only read their blog and bookmarks, I can also see their Reading List , explicitly share links, send private/public messages, see who they are connected to and what they are talking about with our mutual friends and other friends.
It would be also good to comment on the original post and the network version of a post from within the social network, this is a feature of social RSS Reader fav.or.it (not quite sure if it’s an actual social network).
The network filter is what makes the Facebook experience so great…but I’m after a Facebook service more oriented around an RSS Reader, but still with the killer features of Facebook. So far I have found FeedEachOther and Streamy…there is also Spokeo (but this is not a social network, it’s an RSS Reader with a unique subscribing feature, you enter a person’s name and it attempts to fetch all their online profiles).
The technical issue at the moment is unifying the experience so you can read/write and interact with content and people from all these social networks in the one central place (which no doubt will be a network itself).
In a few past posts I mentioned the new knowledge diffusion and the advantage of blogs and networks over the codified approach of knowledge management. I won’t go into these differences and benefits here, but it’s clear that effective sharing and diffusion happens with easy and freeform tools, in an informal way (people you trust), and expressing fragments of information as they happen (not because this information it part of a deliverable, but just to share yout thoughts for no immediate purpose).
In this post I want to highlight another important area, and that’s sources.
The idea of a network is when you join you have to find people to subscribe to, who’s going to be your trust filter…once you find someone, you can visit profiles of who they are connected to and so forth. Besides connecting with people you can also see from their profile what internal/external blog feeds they read.
As you join a network and form your connections you discover both internal and external people, so your social filter is already working for you from step one, you are discovering people and feed sources via the last person and source you found.
So you have looked at profile pages and discovered other people to connect to, and looked at Reading Lists and blogrolls and found external feeds to subscribe to, and now you have quality sources where knowledge will flow to you.
You may wonder, how did this happen, there is so much out there on the web, traditonally I would find good blogs to read via a search engine or directory, then once I come across some feeds, I’d test them out and see if I like them, etc…
In the traditional method above you are on your own…some people will get lost at the first step, and that’s unfortunate as there are so many quality blogs out there, it’s amazing, if only you knew about them, how do you find out about them.
The answer is people, in a social network or simple subscribing to one blog, and visiting their blogroll and seeing blogs they point to is a social way to discover content and people…this is how you build up a view of the world from people you trust, these people are part of what you base what you know on.
It’s amazing that for knowledge flow (information publishing and sharing) we need trusted people in a network, but to be able to even form our network we are using the same method of using people as a filter creation.
Next time a beginner asks you how do I start with web 2.0, all they need is an RSS Reader that is subscribed to one blog, once they read this blog and it’s blogroll, they can subscribe to more blogs, then more, then drop some, then start commenting, then blogging, and people will comment/trackback you, then you subscribe to them, keep blogging, etc…
Soon enough you are reading and engaging in this wonderful ecology of conversation, it manifests, and you don’t realise how much a part of it you are…all this opposed to some spectator or person who relies on authority?? broadcast information (one to many) and has no way to express and interact.
What I like about the above approach is that you are learning as you are assembling, it is very empowering. I look back now and consider I am part of distributed blog networks, and that when I blog I’m someones knowledge flow, and discussion occurs. This all happened because I had intention and interest, that’s all you need, it’s not hard, it’s very organic.
From my intention and interest I’m reading brilliant stuff from regular people, they are not official journalists, they are just learned people having conversations.
This is my daily newspaper, with which I can interact immediately, if only others new they could have their own personalised daily newspaper, all they need is intention and interest and an RSS Reader subscribed to one blog as a start.
The other beauty of being immersed in this egalitarian read/write knowledge flow is that what you read, meshes with what you already know and comes out as something new, and someone reads that, and it has the same effect, and so on…this is a hive mind, an organic process in a cyber ecology (sorry about the new age poetry).
Is there still a need for a source library?
Discovery of people and feeds via a social connections is a quality experience, as you are finding really relevant things, with less frustration and time spent…but this doesn’t make other methods of discovery any less viable.
Earlier I mentioned the traditional way of seeking/orienteering on your own, and how frustrating and time intensive it is without using a social graph…but what if a representative has already done this:
- found sources
- organised sources
- tested quality
- written source reviews
To kick things off in the enterprise I still think there is a need for a champion to scout blog feeds and create a library, librarians are people who specialise in this sort of thing.
A topic feed library can help if people are lazy with their intentions of taking part in the social enterprise, there’s nothing easier than a spoon-fed topic directory…this relates to the RSS experience from a while back.
The difference here is that you are trusting a directory, instead of people you trust in your network and recommendations based on your social graph (based on your content, activity and relationships). Someone in your network may say, why didn’t you ask me (I know what you like-ie. we have high abstraction), I could of told you that feed was no good, or the blogger is a beginner, or their style won’t wet your appetite.
This is all true, but at the same time, we may like finding things out for ourselves, also if we rely on our immediate network we may never read diverse blogs or topics…maybe you could introduce some blog feeds about on topics like “native cultures” or “archaeology” to your close network, which in turn could have great similarities to your body of knowledge.
An equilibrium of social filtering, and plain old hit and hope discovery is essential for diverse and quality knowledge flow network.
How to build the source directory?
- Search the web, browse directories
- Search your internal network and aggregate all these feeds
- Organise into topics
- Also organise into tags people use to organise these feeds in their RSS Readers
- People could also tag feeds in the directory itself (but don’t rely on this, as this is totally altruistic, there is no direct personal benefit in doing this)
- People can submit feeds to the feed library
- Subscribe to the whole library in a master RSS Reader so you can get feed recommendation from the RSS Reader community
Now you can browse feeds by:
- tag cloud
NOTE: “user” refers to the first part of this post, discovery via people as a filter.
But you are not limited to finding people on a type of referral basis, public profiles enable you to browse a people directory or people tag cloud.
Once you find a feed, you can use the social graph to make a decision before subscribing, this type of social filtering is not in finding the feed, but in helping you decide in a social way whether it’s worthy to subscribe to.
eg. you find a feed via browsing people tags, or perhaps you find it browsing the topic feed library, or perhaps you searched the internal blogosphere, and came across a great post from a possible blog subscription.
Before subscribing you can use the social graph to see:
- who in my network subscribes to this feed
- who in the whole network subscribes to this feed
- people who subscribe to this feed also subscribe to…
- what feeds are on the blogroll of this feed
- what blogs does this feed often link to
- what blogs often link to this feed
- who has commented on this feed
Asking all these social filter questions can help you in your decision making.
A tool I have mentioned before is the Blogbridge library or Topic Guides, these are feeds based on topics, each topic has an OPML so you can subscribe to a package of feeds, and each topic has an inhouse blog. It’s not quite a wiki, and I can’t remember if there is tag discovery, but it is a great way to display feeds.
The plan is for topic pages to be more than a list of feeds, but to be able to read the latest posts from each feed, even in a river of news view. This makes it more than a feed library, it’s a topic news page, with an editorial blog. Here’s an example.
Now we have a topic source library that doubles up as a topic news page.
Next we could add memetracking to this, ie. display hot stories and collapse related stories together…in fact the BlogBridge 6.0 desktop RSS Reader has this very feature.
Another option for a topic source directory and topic content news page is creating a widget page using a tool like Grazr.