Product & Startup Builder

Filtering by Category: "signal"

Too much noise for 37signals

Added on by Chris Saad.
Matt from 37Signals (I'm a big fan) asks if there is any way to tame the RSS beast. These posts always make me smile. As do the responses/comments.

A lot of people almost get it, but never really provide a complete answer.

To date our answers (and the answers of others in the Attention space) have been fairly academic - over the next few months as we head into Beta - you will start to see some simple, practical solutions. Solutions that might make 37signals (and their cult of the simple) proud.

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.

The Human Network

Added on by Chris Saad.
I just stumbled across something that, as far as I can tell, is a brilliant stroke of marking genius by Cisco.

They call it 'The Human Network' and it is a phrase they have coined to try to embody the connections being made on the new social web.

One of my favorite definitions of the network is by Mike Davidson from

The human network is the only defense we have against the ever-increasing flow of information to our overworked brains. The technology of publishing was originally about creating signal. Then, as monetization became more important, noise was added. As information discovery shifted to the web, customization allowed for an increase in signal and a reduction in noise. Now, however, we're at a point where even in the absence of any noise, there is simply too much signal for most brains to handle. Enter the human network -- a collaborative filtering system which vets all signal against the profiles and tastes of those we trust, admire, and love. Not all signal is created equal and the human network is the only way to adjust for this.
I would (and have) describe it like this:

The Human Network means that there is no more audience. There are no more users. There are only participants. Participants in a human scale network.

Participants do not passively consume what an author, creator, director, developer, editor, critic or media outlet has to publish. They do not accept the authority. They do not sit silently ready to have their eyeballs converted into cash.

Participants participate. They create their own original information, entertainment and art. They remix their own version of mainstream pop culture – copyrighted or not. They post their thoughts, publish their fears and fact check every announcement. They share with their friends and discover the quirky and interesting, making it an instant blockbuster – at least for 15 minutes.

Participants are no longer eyeballs to be converted. They are ideas to be declared. Individually they are a market of one. Collectively they are a trend, a publishing powerhouse and a voice to be heard. A voice that has something to say.

Participants have changed the way media is published and interactions are monetized. But more broadly and importantly than that, they have changed the flow of global information from top down to bottom up. They are changing the tone and tempo of the conversation.

Elvis? Who is he? It’s the audience who has left the building. All that’s left are fellow participants. We are all authors, creators, directors, developers, editors, critics and media outlets. We are a million voices saying one thing – listen to me.

As Mike says, however, with all this signal, we need a way to create personalized media experiences. Our own personal signal.

"Now, however, we're at a point where even in the absence of any noise, there is simply too much signal for most brains to handle. Enter the human network -- a collaborative filtering system which vets all signal against the profiles and tastes of those we trust, admire, and love."

However I believe that collaborative filtering is only a factor of Personal Relevance.