I’ve started a series about “lifestyle data management”, which loosely translated means how can I keep dibs on all my e-mail, tweets, facebook updates, friend’s blogs, and news/tech/coding blogs without going insane. You can read the introduction here. My first entry on Netvibes Wasabi can be found here. My second entry on Streamy can be found here.
You may be wondering why there are two applications listed here for comparison. Let me give you the overview and things will be clear. I stumbled upon Threadsy in a ReadWriteWeb article outlining a lot of the new technologies that were coming out. I saw a brief mention of it as part of a techcruch article (it made the top 50), so I had to give it a peek. Threadsy is still in beta, but lists itself as “the first truly integrated communications client. see your email, social networks, and twitter in one place.” The theory behind Threadsy is to provide you with two primary views. The first is the Inbound view, which is all communications directed at you, or in t
witter’s case, any mentions/retweets of you. The other view is the Unbound view, which is the general feed on what is going on in Twitter and Facebook. So after anxiously waiting for a week or so for my beta code to come through, I c
onfigured my basic credentials for Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook, and let Threadsy work its magic. After the page loaded up, I was greeted with the following screen:
I was immediately taken back and slightly daunted by this view presented. I wasn’t quite sure what was I was looking at, so I had to think a moment about what Threadsy provides and it started to make sense. The large side on the left is my Inbound view. The icons on the right help identify the source of the inbound communication and you can see the title. I then moused over one of the items and noticed some “quick action” icons appeared to delete, reply, archive, or make it a favorite for later viewing. One thing I really liked was that I could easily respond to a Facebook wall posting (and message too) without having to go into Facebook itself:
After seeing this, I took a peek over to my Unbound view. Again there were icons distinguishing between Twitter and Facebook for each item there. The other thing I liked a lot was that basic photos and video links were displayed in the view as well. Previous widgets or preview type apps didn’t know how to handle that kind of information when interfacing with Facebook’s API. I took a look at one of my friends wall postings and tried to reply:
The post “slid open” and has a nice box in which to reply from. If you click on other posts that have comments already, they display nicely and the count gets refreshed automatically. Mousing over a “Tweet” will give you the appropriate options for replying, retweeting or saving as a favorite. I also noticed that both the Inbound and Unbound fields can be filtered down to a single service in the event I just need to see what was going on with Twitter.
After replying to a few e-mails and Facebook posts, I decided to try composing an e-mail message to try out the message composition features. I typed in my own gmail address and the corner of my eye caught a flicker in the Unbound view. I looked over and saw this:
Threadsy had found my Gmail account (probably matching e-mail profiles) and then put together a basic “summary” page about me, which included a link to my accounts and my recent activities! I even saw a small photo thread that can be expanded into a “slideshow” mode to view additional pictures. I clicked on a couple other of my facebook contacts after this and received a similar result. This was a
great way to get a collective profile about my friends without having to jump around services, or even exit my e-mail message!
Threadsy is very impressive indeed! There are still some beta kinks to work out, and browser issues (it doesn’t fully support Chrome 4 yet, but there’s nothing giving me
too much grief) and I really love how productive and streamlined things become once you get used to the interface.
But the big problem here is that Threadsy doesn’t (and may never) support RSS feeds, which I rely on a lot. To cover that, I started using Feedly again. According to the site, Feedly “organizes your favorite sites into a fun, magazine-like start page. based on Google Reader and Twitter.” Since I already had Google reader going, but wanted something a little more polished for viewing the plethora of feeds I have, I decided to give it an install. Since my Google credentials were already in the browser, Feedly popped up the cover page, fully configured:
Feedly is true to its form a a magazine style cover. It took two screens to display the cover page because towards the bottom of the page you get simple article sumarries vs. the screenshots above. The nice thing is that these are configura
ble through your dashboard. You can select which feeds are your “featured” feeds and they will get prominance at the top of your group pages. At the bottom there is also a Twitter feed and
some links to Amazon. What I really found interesting is the “Karma” section they have, which has tracked some of my twitter posts and the clicks they receive. This helps show you how popular some of your items are getting and who knows, maybe one day I’ll have more than two entries. 8^D
Similar to other feed readers, you can change the layout of the feeds into various formats. What I really like is how their overview layout is smart enough to clip off the entire feed post after a couple of sentences when a summary isn’t available. Some of the other readers would simply display the entire post, which causes inconsistencies. Here’s a quick sample of how I reconfigured my LOLCats (yet again):
Individual groups/categories also have different layout patterns, which allows you to see your featured articles without losing details on what is going on in the other feeds:
Viewing a post is done inline, like other readers, and provides the quick link to share the item on the various networks. Equally impressive is how there are quick links to recommend, save, or mark a post as read:
I will admit that my Feedly overview here is rather brief and not as extensive as the others. The first time I installed Feedly, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the configuration options and couldn’t quite find a layout and interaction that fit with my needs. But after another install and taking the time to dig into the customizations and features, I find it a really robust solution without getting in the way of the reading experience. I’m excited to keep refining the individual groups within my main to maximize the readability, and there is a “Latest News” layout that gives you a clean and crisp chronological sequence. I still would like an auto refreshing feature outside of the 10 minute browser cache refresh, but I can also easily hit R to refresh at anytime.
So true to the other posts, please drop a line if you’ve used or are using Threadsy or Feedly and share your experiences. I have a long weekend now to evaluate all three solutions and come up with a good summary of the whole experience.