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Filtering RSS Through Your Social Web 77

museumpeace writes "Cory Lok assesses the methods, competition and prospects of Rojo, a venture-funded startup RSS aggregator. The brief article is interesting to me because it tries to explain how this and similar uses of a social network harnessed by web search techniques can perform relevance-tuning that will save me from drowning in the tidal wave of blogged newsbits that I find so addicting. They are using a viral marketing approach of spreading membership by invitations from existing members."
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Filtering RSS Through Your Social Web

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  • "viral"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 )

    They are using a viral marketing approach of spreading membership by invitations from existing members.

    I wouldn't call that "viral", it's controlled growth very much like gmail. These people want inclusion, the membership is not being forced on them.
    • Disagree.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nathan s ( 719490 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:38PM (#11472702) Homepage
      I would respectfully disagree with that. It's both controlled growth AND a form of viral marketing; I don't think half as many people would have checked out Gmail if they wouldn't have been excluded from doing so. As long as this Rojo thing is even faintly interesting, people will be talking about it and the exclusionary membership will simply serve to whet the interests of those who are (however temporarily) excluded. Granted, a lot of those people will probably check it out and never go back again - but then, a lot of people I know have done that with Gmail as well.

      It's a bit like setting up a giant bag-o-toys on a playground and telling kids that they can only dip their hand in the bag if some other kid invites them. Something about human nature makes you want to participate dammit! You don't want to be the only one left out, even if the toys suck.

      Just my $0.02 :-)
    • the Eric Cartman theme park marketing strategy.

      "We've got this cool new software and YOU CAN'T USE IT, unless we let you!"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If an item is perceived as "cool", limiting supply can increase demand. By not allowing everybody to sign up at once, they are obviously limiting supply.

      This method also turns its current members into sales reps for the company. People with accounts are viewed as being part of "in" crowd, and gives them reason to share the product with others. (They'll feel cool.) Seriously, I know people who were just "okay" on GMail, but were very excited about handing out invitations.

      It gives geeks like us the feel
    • Re:"viral"? (Score:3, Informative)

      "I wouldn't call that "viral", it's controlled growth very much like gmail."

      You're wrong. It most certainly is viral. As someone in advertising, allow me to explain what the jargon means. "Viral marketing" means that it gets marketed via word of mouth. It doesn't matter if its controlled or not, it simply means that people hear about it from each other instead of traditional advertising.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You insensitive clod!
  • that I find so addictive
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:35PM (#11472676) Journal
    I'm inviting everyone to join my social network... except for YOU GUYS! Nah nah nah nah nah nah!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am addicted to the web if I need rss to manage my daily browsing.
    I am addicted to the web if I need rss to manage my daily browsing.
    I am addicted to the web if I need rss to manage my daily browsing.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:39PM (#11472712)
    > Rojo, a venture-funded startup RSS aggregator. [ ... ]a social network harnessed by web search techniques can perform relevance-tuning that will save me from drowning in the tidal wave of blogged newsbits that I find so addicting. They are using a viral marketing approach of spreading membership by invitations from existing members.

    Venture-funded (ding!)
    RSS (ding!)
    aggregator (ding!)
    social network (ding!)
    so addicting (ding!)
    viral marketing (ding!)

    Damn. All I need is "I find Rojo intriguing and I wish to invest in its newsletter to get a Free iPod", and I can yell "BINGO!"

    • Damn. All I need is "I find Rojo intriguing and I wish to invest in its newsletter to get a Free iPod", and I can yell "BINGO!"

      Yes, indeed. The near-perfect buzzword compliant, content-free post.

  • Ah, good (Score:4, Funny)

    by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:40PM (#11472732)
    It's nice to see that venture capitalists are beginning to drop the ball again. A sure sign of the economy improving.

    • A fool and his money are soon venture capital.

      -- someone's sig.

      As a matter of fact I dug out my theory of economic froth at dinner the other day -- the idea that things like the web boom are symptoms of excess wealth that can be put to no useful purpose.

      It's similar to my posts on slashdot where...oops, I'll explain later.

  • Social networking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skidge ( 316075 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:41PM (#11472741)
    I've tried out a number of social networking sites and I've wondered: how many people actually are visiting the site a month after they sign up? In my experience (and that of my friends), we would sign up, play around with whatever gimmick that site had and then forget about it. Maybe something like this that provides what could be a pretty useful service might be something that could keep us coming back.
    • As far as social networking goes, it is the MMOGs that probably has the longest staying power in the minds of users since they are not just socializing they are building a virtual self. I'll admit, I do not have a lot of experience with these social network sites but I do have a ton with MMOG games.
    • Remember sixdegrees? Perfect example.
    • VCs love the concept of social networking because it is potentially very cheap to set up and potentially offers huge lock-in (read: $$).

      This idea that you can set up a server, pull people into a "network", make said network "indispensible", and then extract vast quantities of money for membership in this network sounds good, too good in fact. Its a great model for VCs but meaningless to most users. Besides dirty chat and file sharing, there is very little to bring people back to these sites again and again,

    • I find that people do still use Linked In, which I've been pretty good about adding others to. It's a nice job-networking site, but not much more.
    • The problem and conflict with Rojo, I find, is that it requires users' _active_ participation, while one of the major advantages of RSS/Atom is that you can subscribe to the feed and _passively_ gather information. People need information to come _to_them_, not yet another site they'll have to check daily or weekly.

      Hence Simpy (URL below) - you don't need to maintain anything there, just save a page when you like it, and find it when you need it. The social/relational stuff is a nice side-effect of taggi
  • by madro ( 221107 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:46PM (#11472789)
    Found this entry:
    The Semantic Social Network [downes.ca]

    I've been thinking about this for a while. I'm not sold on the concept of belonging to a social network site. There was a time when people registered their web sites on directories like Yahoo, until Google figured out a way to spider the web and present relevant stuff to you without requiring pre-registration. I'm not sure requiring membership with a site is going to work, without some sort of protocol to let different sites work with each other.

    Eventually, everyone will have their own blogs, and will embed some identity info into them. We're seeing the semantic web emerging from what people want to do on the web instead of from people trying to classify everything.

    Now an interesting issue is balancing anonymity with community. What would be neat to see would be ways of embedding different types of content in your blog and giving each type different accessibility levels. You'd have your deep thoughts available to the public, but still be able to share stories about your kids with your inner circle.

    RSS, Friend-of-a-friend, cryptography, semantics ... roll 'em all up and let's see what happens.
    • You forgot to mention Wiki!
    • Just a pedantic comment, but Google didn't invent spidering the web - I could find relevant stuff on Hotbot years before. It's just that Google had a pretty good interface, some nice extras (caching all the pages), and a slightly improved version of presenting relevant stuff. But still not that good. Try searching for "mortgage" and your hometown, for example.
      • I was about to say the same thing, but you beat me to it. Saying google invented spidering is like saying Apple invented the mp3 player. Sure they might have the most popular, and maybe even well designed implementation, but it was far from an original concept.
  • My views (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Woogiemonger ( 628172 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:47PM (#11472805)
    When I get together with friends and family, having an idea about what's on their mind and what interests them would help make conversation more enriching. We'd both have had time to comtemplate and form opinions on similar topics. If this overcame the bad vibes of a spam-based marketing scheme (hence me refusing the social network invite), it could really augment the mutual intuition two human beings have of each others' thoughts.
  • by saddino ( 183491 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:50PM (#11472847)
    The problem with these compound (e.g. RSS + social networking) technologies is that it's quite a task to develop one great technology, let alone two great technologies that work seamlessly together. IMHO, Rojo is in a tough spot because their differentiator, namely RSS aggregation, is a walk in the park compared to developing a robust social network.

    As the article notes at the end, Rojo's best gamble is to provide RSS services for already established social networking companies before Friendster et. al. figure out that adding friend-weighted RSS feeds really isn't that hard.
  • So, this means that somebody invites all his friends, and they invite all their friends, and so on, and if every invited person joins up, just about everyone will be included after the 6th iteration. How does that differ from the original vast number of blogs to look through? :)
  • by iJames ( 846620 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2005 @04:56PM (#11472916) Homepage
    They're my friends. That doesn't mean they share all my interests, or even most of them. That doesn't mean they'll care about any of the blogs I read, or that I even want them to know that I found that article about gerbil spanking particularly interesting. And how does Rojo handle it if I want one subset of people to know that I'm into gerbil spanking and not another group?

    If I want people to know about something, I'll send them a link or put it on my own blog. Making it happen automatically would only incline me to be very self-conscious about my casual browsing habits on this "social" network. I don't always want to be that social.

    • I admit it, I am biased, but memigo [memigo.com] (my newsbot) let's you share news recommendations with a network of peers, or keep them to yourself --and it's been doing so for over 3 years... Either way, you reap the benefits of collaborative filtering and aggregation.
    • What *he* said... I've noticed on Bloglines that I can tell exactly when my husband has picked up a new feed because it shows up in my recommendations.
    • Just make sure you have two identities, such as "iJames" and perhaps "iJamesLovesGerbils" and then pick blogs accordingly. Thirty extra points if the gerbil identity blog list gets ranked in the top 3 hits on google when searching for "gerbil" or "richard gere".
  • blogger addiction... (Score:2, Informative)

    by eh2o ( 471262 )
    ...is not a technology problem, its a personal psychology problem.

    slashdot addition is perfectly normal, though. ;)
  • Social networking, relevance networks, blogs...the only thing they apparently aren't throwing into this new vision is nanotech...well, give them time.

    Really, how many users have to filter RSS blogs through social networks (peer review)??? As it stands no one has explained how to keep these social networks going past the "gee whiz" phase - see Friendster that has turned into a classic bitrot site. Furthermore what motivation is there for me to spend time assessing the viability of these feeds and performing

    • LiveJournal's social networking still popular after all these years. LinkedIn is hot with the suit and tie crowd. My del.icio.us inbox is one of my first stops of the day (after my LiveJournal Friends page).

      Oh, and I see that Hemos considers you a friend [slashdot.org], so I know you're not just trolling.

      Social networks make it possible to collectively filter information, while keeping the spammers out.
  • These seems logical. I've actually used almost every RSS reader on the market and come to a simple answer. There is no great RSS aggreatator on the market. There are some okay ones, but I think many of them miss the social interaction at the heart of most RSS feeds. Your reading a PERSON's report, not some company's new feed. There is no easy way to "add a feed" to your aggreator. Most aggreator's are really just lists of feeds. Only a few allow you to mix and filter. The company that puts out the f
    • If Google News released an RSS feed, even a subscription only one, I would buy it. Seriously.

      Google News gets me all the headlines, sorted, categorised, prioratised and without corporate sponsorship biasing every article the same way.
      • I think that there is a real resistance on a part of many sites to add RSS feeds, because it causes people to eat up their bandwidth, but without a way to sell advertisements. Also RSS feeds can cause your bandwidth to go up, since now there are automated process that will constantly PING your feed over and over again. It changes your network load. I would expect that the next generation of webservers will be doing all sorts of optimzations for RSS feeds. I have heard of companies that will "mix in" adv
      • Somebody has created a Google News RSS Generator:

        http://www.justinpfister.com/gnewsfeed.php [justinpfister.com]

      • Google News gets me all the headlines, sorted, categorised, prioratised and without corporate sponsorship biasing every article the same way.

        What both you and MishaGray are getting at is that there really is precious little else worthwhile that is being done in the "aggregate" arena. What you mostly see is software that allows you pull feeds into a common collection, which is of questionable advantage. Beyond Google (and this dinky site [subsume.com] of ours :-), there isn't much other software that is actually t

  • And the winner is.......

    save me from drowning in the tidal wave

  • I use Bloglines to subscribe to a bunch of blogs, but I only find about 20% of the posts interesting. RSS aggregators should have some way for you to mod individual posts, then use that info to intelligently rank posts in the future.
  • Not if its on Rojo (Score:2, Informative)

    by deogee ( 671397 )
    Has any actually used Rojo? I have. I know its beta but the interface is horrible and the site is sloooowwww. Rather than trying to meld two buzzwords together, just give me an rss aggregator that tells me the posts in my feeds list that are generating the most "buzz". Really, I don't care if someone three degress away is recommending a feed. If its good, I'll find it. Most likely because it's linked to in a feed I like. speaking of buzzwords, when is someone going to come out with the wikiweb?
  • by pez ( 54 ) *
    There's a company that already does this in pretty dramatic fasion -- multiply.com [multiply.com]. Take the social networking from Orkut (only make the site actually work), add blogging like blogger or livejournal, social bookmarks like delicious, e-mail like gmail and photo-hosting like flikr -- what do you get? Multiply.com.

    Try it. You won't be disappointed.
  • I found out about Rojo by looking at my website logs. Went to take a look at the site and found another "you gotta be cool" (ie invited) to login.

    I'm almost tempted to restrict them from accessing my blog until they give me an invite, damnit!
  • Trying to filter things the way PageRank filters them isn't always the best method. Explicit links between nodes in a network sometimes build a graph structure that is helpful and insightful when analyzed in a certain way (see Google's success with PageRank). However, researchers at HP's Information Dynamics Lab have shown that, for example, in the context of blogs other links than explicit hyperlinks can create structures that are even more insightful and helpful. Basically, by creating links expressing "
  • Rojo may just be the cat's meow, but my Apache logs indicate that, while they're grabbing my Atom feed consistently, they're also spidering through my blog entires. I'm considering blocking them access at all for doing that -- I output the entire blog post in Atom, and the comments are available in RSS (soon to be Atom as well).

    There is absolutely no justification for ignoring my robots.txt. And to add insult to injury, they deny people like me, who apparently drive the content on their site, from getting

  • Unless your friends are all clones of you, friendships probably aren't the best predictor of your interests. Your friends are different than you. That's what makes them interesting.

    What might work better is reaching out to the entire community -- beyond just your friends -- finding the people like you, and having them recommend interesting articles.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!