May 15, 2008

Shyftr Gets More Social, Showing Who Reads Feeds You Do

One of my positions I've long held from my RSS bully pulpit is that rather than viewing feeds alone, and sharing to a mystery audience, I'd like to know if my friends are subscribed to the same feeds I am, if they've read articles before I have, and if they liked them. This wisdom of crowds theory helps me discover not only new sources for news, but also new peers I may not have known I had.

Yesterday, Shyftr, a next-generation social RSS reader, took another important step toward fulfilling this vision, following in the footsteps of fellow innovators Toluu and Assetbar.

Now, while you read your feeds in Shyftr, a rectangular box at the top right of the feed shows up to twenty avatars of fellow users who also read the feed. If the feed is not popular, all avatars will be shown, while if the feed has more than twenty followers, a random sample will be selected.

Clicking on any of the avatars leads to the user's profile.

Shyftr's Matt Shaulis asked on Twitter yesterday, "Ever wonder who else was reading the same feeds as you?"

Now I know. In fact, as a gradual student of these avatars I've seen used everywhere from MyBlogLog to BlogCatalog, Twitter, FriendFeed and elsewhere, I'm eerily able to recognize avatars, even of people I've never met. Just this morning, after looking at the avatars in Shyftr, I learned that Chris Miller of IdoNotes reads ReadWriteWeb, as does LiveCrunch.

Additional good news for Shyftr comes from the aforementioned Toluu today. Caleb Elston helpfully added Shyftr as a feed reader option in the open OPML sharing and matching site, letting users of both services add feeds to Shyftr with one click through his custom bookmarklet. (See: Shyftr: Our latest feed reader option)

Toluu has integrated Shyftr as a feed reader option

There is definitely a market for social RSS feed readers that let users find what other peers are reading, sharing and commenting on. Shyftr is methodically hitting all the key points one by one, rather than overwhelming users with feature overkill. I know I'll be clicking through these new avatars to see if there are even more peers whom I should know.