my6sense – of consumption, curation and the needstream.

my6sensemy6sense recently hired tech blogger and influencer Louis Gray as VP of Marketing and it is easy to see why.

The Android version of the my6sense application was released to the Android market at 8am last Monday (PST) but Louis had given his Google Buzz followers (myself included) the opportunity to download it early and put it through it's paces. The only condition was that it couldn't be blogged about or otherwise publicly discussed until after the official 8am release time.

Well, within minutes of launch the blogosphere was littered with buzzes, blog posts and tweets about posts. I couldn't open any of my social streams without being bombarded by coverage. Good call my6sense - when the Louis Gray engines roll you'd better get out of the way or you're going to get squashed. Having not had much time to get to grips with the app prior to launch I decided to hold off until I had been able to form a balanced opinion. I fired off some initial thoughts to Louis but didn't want to make my first impressions public as they would not have been accurate. Also, having my phone die on me and need to be replaced threw an additional spanner in the works.

Back in July 2008 a friend Julian Baldwin coined the term "needstream" - those things we actually need from the web as opposed to frivolous browsing or random consumption. As the social web expands the need for a "needstream" - or personally filtered news - has never been greater. Queue services like my6sense.

This is the news you're looking for

As you've no doubt read elsewhere, and in much greater depth, my6sense is an intelligent feed/stream reader that uses technology and algorithms collectively called "digital intuition" to learn what you like in order to perform jedi mind tricks on your news and social streams (Twitter, Facebook and Buzz) and show you the items you will be most interested in: sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Even though we may be careful with those we follow the chances are that we will not be interested in, or want to read everything those people post; cutting out the irrelevance is, therefore, incredibly welcome.

Patience my young Padawan

my6sense is not for those seeking instant gratification, it takes a while for digital intuition to kick in and even longer for it to really find its feet. The more you use it the better it gets. After using it for a few days I was still only half way up the intuition scale; now I am up to about three quarters.

Fortunately, the app allows you to view your streams in time order (like your traditional news/social clients) as well as by relevance; I personally found that starting out by viewing items sequentially made for faster training in the ways of the digital intuition force. Initially, the application was designed as a news reader with an intelligent consumption engine but, at the behest of Louis and others, there is a push for greater engagement functionality - hence the ability to retweet, share on your social networks and, in the latest incarnation, to comment on Facebook and Buzz posts.

I follow relatively few RSS feeds and people on social networks so probably don't get the full benefit but, even though my feeds are already very strictly filtered by myself, I can see how digital intuition is altering the way I see things. It does a great job of learning your reading patterns and showing you what is relevant.

I have a bad feeling about this

As I have privately expressed to Louis, my main concern with an application such as my6sense is that it creates a division of labour between itself and whatever application you use to participate on your social networks - in my case this, whilst mobile, is Tweetdeck for Android. my6sense is not intended as - or probably ever will be - a full social client so you need to weigh up what it is you will be doing and whether the application fits in to your daily routine. Personally, I can't see it replacing the current blend of Tweetdeck and Google Reader but that is just my preference, if you consume a lot of feeds and have a large number of people in your social circle then I would highly recommend that you give it a try, especially if you consume more than you create.

As with any beta product my6sense has its share of bugs and niggles but the team are working hard to get these ironed out. Currently my biggest frustration is that items are brought in inconsistently; sometimes there is full text, others not. Even if the original item is published as a full feed I find that I am frequently jumping out to my browser in order to get the whole story. It also appears to be a bit of a lottery as to whether there are external links to the original item. These problems will no doubt be corrected in upcoming releases.

Rule the galaxy

We all have differing usage scenarios so what works for one may not work for another. To say that products such as this will take over and make other forms of consumption irrelevant is impossible - they are not a one size fits all offering and, therefore, not always applicable even to those who advocate their use. There is a sweet spot between subscription and curation - but that's for another post.

We can say, however, that relevance engines by whatever name are becoming increasingly important as we are more inundated with information.Without some form of order, the more we try to tighten our grip the more news will slip through our fingers.

  1. Goran says: #
    very well written Colin. i agree with you on most of the things. and i reeealy like my6sence!

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