Cullect.com Would Like to Thank ShareYourOPML

Dave Winer just retired share.opml.org, one of the early projects that was about discovering and sharing the feeds you read.

One of the things I liked about Share Your OPML is that I could point it at a URL of my feeds rather than uploading a file. I’m not a big fan of uploading when I have something sitting on a server already.

The only problem with this – the silo-ed nature of the current feed readers export to a file more easily than they export to a URL. ShareYourOPML gave out URLs.

Cullect has takes urls on the import and the export. Want the opml for Cullect.com/65 – the comedy reading list Aric and Cayenne are curating? here you go: http://cullect.com/65.opml.

Easy to share (and just one of the ways to share your reading list).

Want to see the other reading lists those feeds might be in? Pop over to http://cullect.com/65/feeds and look for ‘Also in…’.

Easy to discover (and just one of the ways to find new feeds in Cullect).

Cullect.com – A Shareable Reading List for Each of Your Interests

We all have different facets of our personality – if only work and family. The things that are relevant and interesting for work are off-topic for family. It’s an national election year, so I bet a you’re tracking politics more closely than other years. Again, a separate facet or mindset. Sometimes distinct from the other two.

Last night, I spoke with someone who maintains 2 separated Google Reader accounts – each one for a different high-level topic (marketing news vs. industry news). To switch between those topics, he needs to sign out of one Google account sign into the other (or have a browser / account). Not the most reader-friendly or elegant set up, but it solved the problem of information-overload-via-mixed-interests.

I was impressed with the hack, but not surprised. Today’s feed readers break quickly once feed counts hit triple digits and the ‘single reading list per person’ amplifies the problem.

Right now, I’m actively maintaining 5 feed reading lists (“Cullections”) in Cullect.com for a total of 210 feeds:

  1. Technology News: Cullect.com/1
  2. Friends & Family: Cullect.com/5
  3. My Favorite Podcasts: Cullect.com/33
  4. Economics: Cullect.com/53
  5. PodcastMN: Cullect.com/66

I quickly navigate to each reading list by clicking it’s number at the top of my browser window, or using the number keyboard shortcuts. No re-signing-in or moving to a completely different browser.

While there’s a little overlap in feeds across those lists, I find it useful for ensuring I catch the really relevant things – those things overlapping my interests.

In each of those interests, there are different people I trust. For example, Ben Moore and I have similar economics perspectives. I’m interested in the economics feeds he reads and the individual posts he finds interested. So, I’ve invited him to my Economics reading list. Think of it as pair-programming for feed reading. We each get the benefit of another pair of eyes at the day’s items. With Cullect.com being open – you can read the things we’re reading and use it to start your own economics reading list – with a different slant.

All of this is to state, I no longer feel information overload and I’ve been able to dramatically cut down the time I take reading feeds all while feeling more connected.

Plus, when others ask me what blogs or podcasts I like, I can point them to one of these reading lists and they’re on their way.

Monthly subscriptions are now available for as little as $6/month (gets you 3 Cullections). Try it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks.

Cullect.com – You Already Have An Account

If you’ve spent significant time online, you have pile of names and passwords. Typically, one per domain, sometimes, it’s more than that. Each web service assuming it’s so god damn important in your life that it deserves a special password one more unmemorable than the next.

Highly rude, impolite, an unnecessary. Especially today when so many web services have interoperable APIs.

What do websites ask people to register instead of simply authenticate?
One reason is that ad-rates, valuations, and other finance-related metrics are based on the number of accounts (active or otherwise). Things unimportant to the people registering.

For Cullect.com, I needed some unique identifier. Something small to distinguish one person from another. As an added bonus, I’m betting the people in need of a powerful feed aggregator like Cullect are already publishing to some kind of API-enabled website already.

Cullect authenticates you against your own existing website(s). Easy. Like looking in the mirror.

No registration process. Just sign in. No need to create a new account or password. If you want to save yourself a step on the publishing side, Cullect can save your password. By default, it doesn’t.

For more background on this approach, check out my Guarding the Rhino post.

Cullect.com – We Read Through Each Other

A couple days ago, Arik Jones – one of the early people in Cullect.com – deleted all his feeds and started over.

He dropped from ~50 feeds down to 4.

His dramatic shift got me thinking about the shared, collaborative, nature of Cullect.com and a notion I’ve been calling “reading through each other.”

Within Cullect, if a post (let’s call it ‘Commenting Post’) in a feed you subscribe to links to another post (‘Original Post’) from a feed you aren’t subscribed to, you can read ‘Original Post’ inline with ‘Commenting Post’ (instead of opening another tab or window).

That’s what I had originally deemed the ‘reading through’ notion.

Back to Arik.

Within Cullect, everyone’s reading list is public. Pick a number, any number. You don’t have to be a curator of that ‘Cullection’ to read. So, you could find a couple Cullections that have most of the feeds you like and some decent curators and drop all your overlapping feeds. Read the /recommended feeds from those Cullections, and start your own Cullection with just your unique feeds.

I don’t know if that’s what Arik did, but it’s not only another way to ‘read through’, but also a way to drive uniqueness in Cullections and save time in reading feeds. Both of which are exactly why I build Cullect.com

If you’ve been waiting to try it out, your first Cullection is now free. Just sign in and import your feeds.

Arik responds:

“I needed focus and I wanted to focus on a subject I do not know very much about….So thank you Cullect (and Garrick Van Buren) for making content comfortably consumable again.”

Excellent point Arik, it’s very easy to start a new Cullection, independent from your other feeds that focuses on a highly specific topic.

Sharing is Caring

Like yourself, I travel in a number of personal and professional circles; dad’s open gym night, neighbors, this project team, that project team, peers via podcasting, peers through information architecture, peers through visual design, etc. Each circle has different values and finds different things relevant. The chances of something I find interesting being relevant to more than one of these circles in almost zero.

Preschools and potty-training schedules are off-topic in a project meeting.

Separate but equal.

Overarching tools with a ‘share’ gesture but lacking a notion of these distinct circles is simply rude. A privacy concern? Maybe – in the same way sharing anything on a publicly accessible URL is a privacy concern.

A complete disregard for how real people live multi-faceted lives? Absolutely.

Ask Not What Twitter Can Do For You

After playing around with Twitter for nearly a year, I’ve come to an understanding with it.

The less Twitter does, the better.

In reviewing Jeremiah Owyang’s Twitter Wish List, I only agree with #2, a white-labeled Twitter for workgroup/company use. If Twitter doesn’t want that market, that’s cool. I know of at least 1 company that does.

The rest feel like they’ll turn Twitter into something it isn’t;

  • Supporting non-private groups is an easy hack – create a ‘fake user’, have everyone in the group direct messages via the ‘@’. (Twitter isn’t Jaiku)
  • ‘filtering’ for ‘fake users’. What does that even mean? (Twitter isn’t YFly)
  • Weather? – my tweople are great at giving the weather and traffic conditions already. They’re also great at pointing me to stuff to buy, things to do, and places to go. All without a formal structure for doing so. (Twitter isn’t Facebook)
  • Threaded replies implies rigidly staying on topic. Something that isn’t guaranteed in the messaging systems that have threading today (Twitter isn’t email or forums)

I’m a little surprised not to see ‘remove 140 character limit’ on the list. :p

My Twitter Wish list:

  1. Improved stability and API.
  2. Block search bots (Google, etc) from indexing.
  3. Become invisible.

In addition to that, there’s plenty of work to be done that keeps Twitter.

For example, I wanted a Twitter client that auto-expanded shortened urls and did something smart with the resulting file, so I baked it into Cullect.com.

Here’s an example:

Cullect.com – “takes the web2 out of feed readers and I love it.”

Arik Jones, one of the people I’ve asked to try Cullect.com for a week, wrote up his thoughts two-days in:

“Unlike Google Reader it doesn’t inundate you with useless UI elements….What I like the most about Cullect is the ability to recommend feeds and then being able to give friends a dead simple url. It takes the web2 out of feed readers and I love it.

Exactly what I’m aiming for. Thanks Arik.

As Arik mentions, if you can sign-in to cullect.com right now if you have: a Twitter account, an openid, a WordPress-based blog, or a Typepad/MoveableType-based blog. While you don’t need to sign-in to read anything within Cullect, after signing in, you can send interesting posts to Twitter or to your weblog. The activation process Arik mentions is just for creating a new group of feeds.