Microcontent Aggregators, Peoplefeeds is right up there with 43Things.com as a leader in this market. Before I start the review, I came across a new Web 2.0 list today called categoriz - which puts Peoplefeeds in its 'Content Management' category and the others I've been tracking in categories such as 'Social Networking' and 'RSS creation, reader'. Which is to say that categorizing Web 2.0 products is often as difficult as trying to define 'Web 2.0' itself (something I gave up trying to do at the end of last year - and I'm now much saner for it!). But to be clear, the type of product I'm looking at here is:Continuing my look at
a service that aggregates microcontent about a person (usually via RSS) and displays it on a new page/site for users to view in aggregate.
Peoplefeeds aggregates content from a variety of sources - a person's blog(s), Flickr feed, del.icio.us links and so on. They call this "personal content aggregation". Peoplefeeds also enables "discovery of other people's personal content" - and as with 43Things, users can filter that content.
Filtering by person and tags
Peoplefeeds has a nice concept called "watchlists", which allows you to subscribe to all - or just parts - of a person's content. You can filter what content you want to subscribe to - so e.g. you can choose to filter out a person's photos if you don't want to see their holiday snaps. But the real beauty of the Peoplefeeds system is that it allows you to filter content by tag. So if you're only interested in reading my content about Web Office, you can do so (provided I've tagged it as such - more on that in a moment). Here's a couple of screenshots illustrating the watchlist features:
This page shows my content that is tagged "WebOffice" across any of my sources. People can subscribe to it using the +W button (next to the RSS button).
Here's an example of Bosko's Watchlist - e.g. he's subscribed only to BlueCockatoo's content that is tagged "collaboration" and "development".
Theoretically then, it would be possible to only subscribe to a person's content on a single topic - no matter where they publish it to. For example, I post about Web Office mainly on my ZDNet blog, but occasionally on Read/WriteWeb. I may also decide to tag things in del.icio.us and Flickr with "WebOffice". So it's possible to use PeopleFeeds to filter all of those sources so you only get my content on the topic of Web Office - on one page and in one feed.
But here's the problem - this system is reliant on the publisher correctly tagging their content. I'm one of those 'lazy taggers', so often I'll forget to tag my content. I'm also a lapsed del.icio.us user (Web 2.0 father, forgive my sins...).
Peoplefeeds has other goodies such as OPML support and RSS feeds for nearly everything. I'm told an API is on its way too. I like how developer Bosko Milekic summed up Peoplefeeds in an email to me:
"The most important idea behind Peoplefeeds was to use personal/generated (i.e., "write") content to improve the "read" (consumption) experience, and filtering is a big part of that."
...gee I wonder why that description appealed to me ;-) All in all, Peoplefeeds is a nicely designed service with a lot of potential - particularly in the filtering aspects. I suspect it's a bit ahead of its market right now and there is a concern about whether the system is too reliant on publishers tagging their content correctly. It would be even more impressive if Peoplefeeds had some keyword-matching algorithm to identify terms like "Web Office" across my feeds, instead of relying on me (the publisher) tagging it. In other words, get the system to automate some of those tagging/filtering tasks. Let's hope that kind of functionality will come, because Peoplefeeds is something I'd like to use more.