Twitter Without the Twitter Feed

There's a lot of fun in the hullabaloo of Twitter, but if you just want to find interesting stuff, a new site called Prismatic will spare you the work of sifting through hundreds of tweets.

prismatic-615.jpg

Like many people, I get a good proportion of the news I read every day from people I know online, primarily in the form of links I find on Twitter, and also from Facebook to some (lesser, for me) extent. On Twitter I read hundreds of tweets and mark a few as favorites, articles that I will pull up and read in full once I'm in the office. I find great stuff, but it's not particularly efficient. Even though I'm following a carefully tailored list of very interesting people and publications, I still only mark a few stories out of the hundreds I glance over.

As with all search activities, the hope is to somehow increase the signal-to-noise ratio. That is why I have been enjoying Prismatic, a site that pulls together content that's interesting to me from all over the Internet. Right now, it's pointing to a good mix of fun and serious stories from The Atlantic, Gizmodo, The New Yorker, The Awl, and many other great publishers. For each story, there's a quick summary, a picture, and the tweets of a few people who have linked to it. Within Prismatic I can retweet or favorite the stories (this functionality was added just last week). For example, here's what one story from the New York Times's Opinionator blog looks like in my feed right now:

prismatic.png

Prismatic finds content for you by looking at what you have shared on Twitter, the publishers you link to, and who your friends are (it will eventually account for Facebook as well). But the content doesn't only come from your Twitter feed -- it comes from anywhere on the Internet, using clues in your feed to find things that will interest you. "Your social accounts are seeds, not the source," co-founder Bradford Cross explained to me over email. Once you've started using it, you can refine your feed by adding new "interests" such as "cloning" or "Apple." Over time, Prismatic will learn more about you, based on what stories you click through on the site. Additionally, I can look at specific publications on Prismatic to see which stories from them are hot in my Twitter orbit.

Prismatic is the work of five people with backgrounds in Artificial Intelligence, design, and data based in San Francisco. The early team started building the product in late 2010, and the version of Prismatic that's in use came together in late 2011. Right now, anyone with a Twitter account can sign up for an invite, which Cross says will arrive quickly. Soon they hope to support signing up with a Facebook account. How they'll work with people who want to sign up with just an email address they aren't sure, but they hope to do so eventually.

I still like the hullabaloo of my Twitter feed, but for some concentrated, high-quality reading, Prismatic is a reliable source.

Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In