Product & Startup Builder

Filtering is so 5 years ago

Added on by Chris Saad.
In a recent Read/Write Web blog post Richard (Great guy by the way. Met him at Arrington's place for drinks and poker!) talks about Filtering RSS. He states:

[Filtering is important] Because it's the next step up from RSS aggregation, as many of us now have too much information coming at us.
I agree there is too much information coming at us, but the problem is not just the volume, it's the quality.

There is no variation in the sound. It's like using all the colors of the rainbow at once. The result is white. Or playing all sounds everywhere at the same time. The result is noise.

What we need to do is add variation back into the system. We need a way of creating our own personal signal.

I have a problem with filtering. To me, filtering is like Web 0.5 search. WebCrawler and others were doing keyword matches and returning a barley useful set of results. Filtering is rudimentary and only partially useful. Google understood that a piece was missing. A way to rank documents not only based on the number of keyword hits, but on their popularity in the community and relevancy to the subject matter.

What we need for RSS is ranking. Real ranking. Not just based on the number of keyword hits but on relevancy. Unlike search, however, relevancy is not enough. What we need is Personal Relevancy.

Personal Relevancy is not about asking 'How many keywords hits does this document have to my search query' or even 'how popular is this document based on incoming links' but rather 'Based on everything you know about me, how much do I personally care about this document right now, in what format do I want it presented to me and on what device'.

Can you see the difference? Of course you can.

Unlike filtering, relevancy is not black or white. On or off. Include or exclude. It has variation. It has rank.

Touchstone has been ranking content for 6 months now. We have decided to go one step further. Escalating Alerts. But that is a topic for another post.

Another key theme of the post was the ability to re-syndicate the 'filtered' content to RSS. Touchstone has also been doing that for ages. But again, our RSS feed is not just filtered; it is ranked. We have added an extra tag called 'Rank' so that compliant applications can make intelligent presentation decisions just like Touchstone does with its Escalating Alerts.

Filtering is neat. Ranking is powerful. And over the next few months when we start to release Touchstone into the wild I am sure the community will agree.

If you have interesting ideas about how to apply our personal relevancy technology, drop us a line.