Prismatic for iPhone – My New Fav News Reader

I wrote about Prismatic’s web application here in the Studio several months ago. I am pleased to report that Prismatic has now rolled out an iPhone version of its very capable relevance-based reader – it is now my go-to app for news. Using stories from my own Twitter feed as well as content from other relevant sources, Prismatic for iPhone provides me with a continuously updated stream of material on the topics I choose.

When you set up your Prismatic app, the app will give you suggestions for interests and publishers related to your location. Select more general topics if you like – as you can imagine I am very tech-heavy in my topic choices. The results are beautifully displayed on the phone with images and a blurb in the feed, the ability to swipe right for more information and even click through links within the app with a very fast-loading, content specific browser. Swipe the other way to return to the feed. Press and hold on a news blurb or the full article to add, or share the content via email, or Twitter. The gesture-based functions, animations and smoothness of the app are topnotch.

Swipe right on the Home Screen and you can search for content, review your activity including favorites, shared and read items, tweak your Home publishers and topics, access global news and peruse a list of suggestions that improve the more you interact with the app. Click on the blue labels under the title of the news story to visit other interesting feeds. It is a work of design brilliance and performs very solidly.

I also find news on Prismatic that I don’t find on my other relevance-based readers, so kudos to their algorithm and source breadth and depth.

One of my favorite uses of the iPhone is to access news for quick reads will I am waiting somewhere. Prismatic more than fills that need and I find myself turning to it more than once daily to get caught up on what is happening right now. If you are like me, you will love Prismatic’s iPhone app.

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Twitter Just Got A Lot More Interesting, with Prismatic

 

Even after four years of tweeting, Twitter is still an enigma to me. Mostly because I find myself constantly flooded with information from it and I am unhappy with my inability to segregate the really good stuff from the really useless stuff. I prune my follows regularly and use all sorts of apps to bring the best stuff to the top, but I still am plagued with the idea that I am missing real gems in the process. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Twitter isn’t useful – I definitely see it as a valid news source, particularly for real-time and breaking information. It’s just that my efficiency-first personality renders me constantly frustrated by the process of reading and rating the worth of tweets.

 

Speaking of gems, I may have found an answer, at at least, a better answer to may age-old problem of information overload in my Twitter stream. It’s called Prismatic. Prismatic is an algorithm driven application that reads through the Twitter stream, and reports back with the tweets and links that will likely be of the greatest interest to you. It’s awesome for a number of reasons. First, while you may have the coolest Twitter follows in the world, they are only human and may miss some key information. Furthermore, if you have narrowed your interest graph to a particular topic or set of topics, what are you to do when you need information outside that sphere. Prismatic doesn’t just look at your Twitter follows, it looks at the WHOLE Twitter stream (yikes!) and then promotes the best stuff on your area of interest, while still offering a series of links along your sidebar to permit you to investigate different topics and tags.

 

Prismatic’s developers bill it as a discovery engine and have leveraged their deep knowledge of machine learning and linguistic programming in building the app. So what does it look like? After answering a few questions to get your page started, you will be greeted with a clean, web-news page look, with main stories in the larger left side, and a sidebar along the right. Hover over the home icon on the right to see your “home” feed, which is built around your interests. Hover over the globe icon on the right to explore the larger universe of available topics. It appears that the Global feed is also personalized to you, but covers a broader range of material. You get suggested topics as well as suggested publishers, so you can lock in on the most interesting stuff. You can also employ the search box on the right to get right to what you are looking for.

 

Of course, you can fully interact with the articles presented to you in your feed. A typical blurb looks like the image below, and  you get infinite stories by simply scrolling down the left side of the page:

 

 

You can see the article at the link, an image and a bit of the text. Click on it to go to the original source article. See a few of the tweets that have linked the article to the right. Click the “x” if you aren’t interested and would like it removed, click the “+” if you want to favorite the story for later reading and click the comment bubble if you want to share the story elsewhere. You can share by email, Twitter or Facebook. You will also see how many people have shared the story, so you can get a sense of how popular it is. Click the eye at the top of the page to show that you have read all of the articles. See and click on the tags that brought the story to you, and click on the related stories link to see all stories Prismatic has related to the original story. This makes it easier to dig deeper into a particular bit of news.

 

I am loving this app. I found in the first few articles of my feed some great stuff that hadn’t percolated its way up to the top in Feedly or my other “smart” aggregators. I was able to quickly read and tweet it back out. Very efficient. If you are having difficulty managing the wild Twitter beast, then consider trying out Prismatic. My one complaint, lack of a mobile app, is being addressed as we speak and hopefully will be out shortly. Prismatic on the iPad would be an absolutely killer combination.

 

The service is free, but it is still in limited beta, so you will need to request an invitation at their website. It didn’t take long to get mine. Head on over, then head back here with your feedback on this great, intelligent Twitter-taming tool.

Cadmus Weights Your Stream

As Studio readers well know, I am attracted to any service that helps me wade, Wall-E style, through mountains of stuff to find the gems. Here is another great application to help you do just that with your social streams.

The service is called Cadmus (link here) and it “reads” your stream in order to prioritize and promote the best, most relevant material developed since your last check-in.  You log in to Cadmus with your Twitter account (via OAuth) and the resulting page will show in dimishing order of relevance the most important conversations. Conversations are grouped tweets and @replies. You can filter within this list by time, lists, trending topics, etc.

And, when I say trending topics, I don’t mean Justin Bieber. Cadmus will show trending topics among your particular follows – a presumably more “cultivated” group than the general Twitter populace, at least as far as your own personal interests lean.

Cadmus excels at culling relevant conversations and trends. It does this by tracking relationships, source importance and post importance. And it doesn’t just work for Twitter – you can apply the Cadmus algorithm to your Friendfeed stream or your RSS subscriptions. Sweet! Even sweeter – you can load Cadmus onto your iPhone with the help of iPhone app TweetAgora (link here).

Add Cadmus to your list of web tools to help cull clutter and improve your social efficiency.

A Visual Relevance Map

Still trying to grok relevance in our current Internet state of affairs? Simply put, relevance is the degree of value and importance that a particular item of data holds for you. Filters and tools help us sift through the irrelevant to find the relevant. Different tools fit different needs – relevance is directly related to how particular information is uncovered, how it is intended to be used and its degree of implicit veracity and support.

Skeptic Geek Mahendra Palsule has put some brain cells into mapping relevance with a visual representation that sorts the tools in different need quadrants.  While I believe the purpose of Mr. Palsule’s exercise was to determine the front runners in the battle for our attention raging among startup tech companies. I think the mapping also serves as a decent primer for any web user to get a sense of what tools will yield which result. Check out his map below:

Just to clarify, search vs. serendipity addresses the range of behavior from actively looking for something specific to simply happening upon something of value. Popular vs. personalized reflects the range between data that is hot across the masses compared to info that is ranking high within your own social circle.

The tools noted above are not an all-inclusive list – I can think of at least ten more right now off the top of my head that should fit on this x y axis chart. Nonetheless, the chart provides a great overview of where the different types of tools fit in the overall scheme of how to find, filter and interact with the information most valuable to you.

I strongly urge you to hit the jump to Mr. Palsule’s original article, where he provides a more detailed explanation of what he was trying to accomplish with the table and his FORMAT method of categorizing the tools. If you understand how the tools fit in the bigger picture, you can more readily figure out which tool to use for a given purpose.

Genieo – Another Means for Auto-Curating The News

I have talked about intelligent news readers here in the Studio before, so why not again? Genieo (link here) is another entrant in the arena of relevance-based reporting. Genieo is a desktop application based on proprietary algorithms that “read” user behavior, learn relevancies and feed back content tuned to user interest. That information is viewable through a dynamic, personal content portal, a/k/a home page. From the site:

The company’s vision is to become the leading source of user behavioral modeling, supplying content and application providers with effective means to address their users’ needs, and help advertisers and publishers with targeting personalized ads, with the utmost precision.

The process is simple enough – download the Genieo software and make your settings, allow Genieo some time to pull together your interests and profile and create your home page, and open your browser to your page. It will show, in magazine format, top news headlines, actual and real-time updates and filtered Facebook and Twitter updates. Everything shown will be related to your interests and Genieo will refine those interests over time as you use their service. You can also manually adjust interests to direct the process.

Some cool adds? Genieo will auto-update your bookmarks as you visit sites and manage these bookmarks based on your level of interest and interaction with them, all without interfering with your browser’s own bookmarking system. A Mini Topic Filtering System sifts through all information at the “highest resolution”, continually bringing items exclusively relevant to you. You can pull real-time updates from events you are following, stocks, sports (WORLD CUP!!!!) or developing news stories. Unobtrusive notifications of updates are displayed on your screen as you work. And, of course, there is the ubiquitous ability to one-click share your stories with your networks.

Genieo offers an interface modded for iPhone – simply navigate to my.genieo.com, log in, and get your information iPhone-sized. You can also pull your Genieo feed into your favorite RSS reader.

Lots of relevancy-based coolness from the fine folks at Genieo! Curate your own news now, automatically!