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.

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More Social Curation with Storify

Here’s another one for you, sharing ilk with the likes of curated.by and Keepstream. It’s called Storify (link here) and it allows you to collect tweets and other media on a topic or “story” that you might want to publish out to your readers, followers or connections. Storify distinguishes itself by allowing you to collect source material from across the web (rather than just tweets or Facebook shares). You can search and add content from YouTube, Flickr, Google search results and more. Reorder elements and add text to provide context to the story. Once you have collected your information, you can create and share your story via your Storify URL or embed your “story” into your blog or website, and even send notifications to your original sources advising that you have clipped and re-published their content.

While it is possible to duplicate this kind of effort manually in your own blog, Storify’s drag and drop interface makes it beyond simple to create media-rich versions of events. Stories with Storify are interactive, and  readers can re-Tweet or reply to the people quoted in stories. You get curator-attribution in RTs.

I can see lots of uses for this. In the professional context, you could collect all of the content surrounding a presentation or conference and republish it following the event for posterity’s sake. Or, start a discussion on Twitter and collect all the replies. Check out this clever “Storify” created by @tcarmody about lobbying for Twitter follows.

By the way, Storify is an actual verb – it means to form or tell stories. So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for an invite and get your Storify (noun) on!

Curated.by – Revisited

Remember Curated.by? That other Twitter curation tool I talked about here in the Studio a while back? If not, don’t worry – just hit the link right here. Curated.by is an awesomely ingenious web app that allows you to collect, curate, share, embed and otherwise work with tweets around bundles – groupings that you tag or label. Curated.by has its own community and stream – you can subscribe to others’ bundles and create your own, which others can subscribe to.

Curated.by is still in invite-only beta. I finally got my invite and started playing with it today. Check out my bundle below.

If you like what you see, the fine folks at Curated.by gave me three invites to share. Drop me an email on my contact page and the first three to do so can join in the fun.

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Keepstream: Keeping Tabs On Your Stream

Content curation. I can’t say it enough. I love when someone else does the expert curating for me, but sometimes if you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself. Keepstream (link here) helps you do just that with a particularly untame-able source – Twitter and social liking activity. Keepstream, a free web app – simply sign up and authorize your Twitter, allows you to create collections of favorite tweets. But it doesn’t just work for tweets. It grabs Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, and more (soon will be automatic, now manually). Use the bookmarklet to collect web pages as you browse. View and manage your collections from a single, simple dashboard interface.

And here is the cool: share or EMBED them in a blog post or web page. You can gussy up your own content with relevant, related content created by others, updated as you update your collection! Great way to show the conversation around a topic of interest. Just click the embed button and use the associated widget to present the content. It currently works with Blogger, Squarespace, Typepad and WordPress self-hosted blogs, but more are on the way. Wow – such promise, you say, but how do I use it? Founder Tim Gaspar has his own suggestions – check them out:

  1. Showcase positive feedback or mentions of your brand.  An example – http://keepstream.com/TimGasper/keepstream-chatter
  2. Grab highlights from an event hashtag!  Or just from any hashtag.  An example – http://keepstream.com/TimGasper/-blogathonatx-highlights Another example (we got to high-five Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead!) – http://keepstream.com/JimEngland/edgar-wright-visited-alamo-drafthouse
  3. Integrate some tweets you’ve posted lately into you blog.  That way, even if your blog readers aren’t following you on Twitter, they can still see some of the best posts!  An example – http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2010/09/tw.html
  4. Add some related links of interest to the end of blog post – so that your readers can see some additional resources!  Readers love it and other bloggers appreciate being linked to.  An example (scroll down to the bottom :-D) – http://blog.keepstream.com/2010/09/what-do-apple-the-guggenheim-and-forbes-have-in-common-curation/
  5. Posted a bunch of photos, videos, and tweets during an event?  You can put all the links in one place – in a Keepstream collection – to make it easier for you friends or followers to view them.
  6. Collect links around a topic – either for personal research, or to share with your network.  An example – http://keepstream.com/JimEngland/marketing-and-pr-for-startups
  7. Do a tweet chat or a Twitter interview!  Check out this awesome interview of Adrian Grenier, the actor in Entourage –http://keepstream.com/mediatwit/twitter-q-a-with-adrian-grenier
  8. You have to admit, making sense of the morass of web content and sharing is a top priority for anyone seeking to use the Web to its full potential. Check out Keepstream, as well as my own curated list of tech tweets below: