The wonderful thing about the internet is that there is such an abundant of good information out there. There isn't a day where I don't come across an entry from another blog that I find interesting and end up following. The unfortunate outcome is that I end up having a huge amount of blogs that I find myself having to catch up on. The other issue is that not everything a blog site publishes is interesting or relevant to me. So I find myself going through blogs in my RSS reader, reading a few and discarding the rest. While it's doable, it's not necessary that efficient use of my time.
So here's where I think Social Median comes in. Social Median has the potential to be a true RSS aggregator instead of an RSS consolidator. The foundation of Social Median is the concept of a News Network. A News Network is basically a theme or topic of interest. You can either subscribe to an existing news network or create your own. The implementation of the news network is quite simple but powerful as it provides you with multiple levels of filtration
Trust at the Source
As part of the creation of a news network, you select the sources of information by inputing the RSS feeds of the source. When I create an news network, I use this as filtration of trust and relevance. I only put in news sources of sites that I think can provide me with relevant entries by people whom I trust either by reputation or by knowing them.
The next step that the Social Median does is to filter out your consolidated sources by applying a word filter. You enter all the words that you think could be relevant to the topic and depending on the noise level that you set, it only shows you entries that match your filters. Noise levels have 3 settings – high, where it needs to only match your primary topic filter; medium where it matches your topic filter and any one of the secondary filters or low where it tries to do an intelligent match of all the filters that you've set. I've found this a bit tricky especially for broader topics. Right now I can't think of all the appropriate keywords for my topics and so I don't always get all the blogs that I'm looking for.
This is where the most powerful step of the news filter lies. Once your news network is created it is then published to a directory for anyone to subscribe. The people in your news network can then clip it which makes increases the popularity count of the particular entry, select the mood whether it's positive or negative or simply click it as irrelevant. The more popular your news network is, the more powerful this is going to be as a filter.
Even though I've been a Social Median subscriber for a while, I have struggled on how to use it. Social Median doesn't work very well as a news reader but to its defense, it doesn't claim to be. There are multiple tabs that you can go through that provide you very useful information. The first tab summarizes all the hot and trending topics. Followed by a summary of news from your network and then a tab with all of the news that you have contributed.
There are a few things I would love to see Social Median be able to do. The major struggle I have is that I find it hard not to be able to mark a news item already read so whenever I come back to the site, I can't immediately tell if there is new information that I should be interested in at a glance. The second is to give me the ability to see what entries I've clipped and tag them. If not, then give me the ability to integrate it into something like delicious. I usually clip an entry not only because I find the article interesting and that perhaps other people might as well, I often also do it because I think it might be useful for later use as well. Another useful capability would be to be able to link articles together. For instance, when Microsoft introduced Windows Mobile 6.5, at least 3 blogs created entries on the topic but all 3 provided relatively the same information and it would have been useful to have the ability to link the articles together so someone could easily just read one, browse through the summary of the other 2 and then move on.
Overall, I like the idea of Social Median. It has the potential to be a powerful aggregator and they have approached the problem in a very intelligent way. It is an excellent hybrid of technology and people and is certainly one of the smartest way of leveraging a social network.