A Quest for the Perfect Personal News Platform

Glenn CrownoverMarch 9, 2013
In our last post we revealed some changes to the flow of tweets in t4bp - but I wanted to elaborate on the "Big Picture" - where we are trying to take t4bp and why.

We are increasingly living in a world where we have access to real-time information - both instantly available, and infinitely tailorable.  Twitter takes a giant step along that path - allowing users to decide who (or what) offers the information they consider important or interesting to them.  This collection of followed users represents their "Interest Thumbprint" - it is unique to each user.

Now add to that the plethora of other services, such as Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, PInterest, Facebook, Google+, RSS, etc.  If we widen the net a bit more, we have email, SMS, and other forms of non-interactive, or semi-interactive forms of communication.

At any given moment, there are tens or hundreds of little bits of information trying to reach us - and if we put the time in to properly setup these services, much of this information is relevant, and important or interesting or amusing to us.

But how much of it do we actually see?  What determines which bits we see and which we don't?  For most of us, it is likely dictated by semi-random patterns of use - when we happen to look at each of the services, what is currently showing. Perhaps those items which directly reference us (mentions) will rise to the top and be seen - but everything else is on a "happen to know" basis!

We are striving to solve that problem. This is our quest. And t4bp is essentially the "Twitter only" experiment for that.

Once we really get it *right* here, we plan to rename, rebrand, incorporate other services, and provide a real-time personalized news hub that excels in getting you updated quickly and effortlessly - while maximizing the quality and relevance of what you see.

We see this primarily fall into 3 stages:

  • INPUTS : Making sure the news bits being pushed into your workspace are of the highest "quality" or "relevance" is the first critical stage. This is largely determined by the services you setup and how who you follow on those services, but there is lots we can do to improve upon that - with clear visibility to what services and what parts of those services you are actively viewing, providing extensive filtering, and providing quick and easy ways change these settings.
  • WORKSPACE : The second stage is the workspace itself. t4bp has largely focused on this stage so far - trying to find the most efficient way to manage a bunch of news bits at once; allowing users to skip around quickly, identify something of interest; view it very quickly; and move on. If the news references an external resource, such as a picture, video, website, etc., then allow them to quickly pull that resource up for viewing (and quickly dismiss it afterwards).  Currently we sort by arrival time (and provide 3 time categories for extra clarity) but will likely provide many other ways to sort.
  • DISMISSAL : The third stage is the dismissal stage - what happens to bits of information after they were "consumed". Often, they are simply removed from the workspace - but we want to expand on this quite a bit. Providing quick access to what you have already seen is a start - but also preserving some bits for longer than a single session is sometimes important. This is better handled by us than the service (such as Twitter) itself.
What is our roadmap for all this? We have no idea. We took about 2 years off to build other things (including our little girl Asa!) and we will likely need to take more breaks to earn a living. That makes progress pretty slow.

But on the plus side, we get lots of time to see how things work or don't work. We are patient; and we are determined. That said, if you are an investor, and what I've said sounds attractive, lets talk! Given the right fit, I'd love to propel this forward at a much faster pace and with 100% attention.

Everyone else can help simply by using t4bp - and think about what we are trying to accomplish - and make suggestions. We are resolute in the goals, but flexible on the path to get there!

So now - on with the Quest!
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