Last week, I wrote a story for PC World about Gmail’s priority inbox feature, which flags unread messages as important depending on previous interactions and other cues. My hope was that the same idea — algorithmic sifting of the web’s information overload — would find its way to other services like social networking and RSS feeds.
Turns out, there’s a free app for that. It’s called My6sense, and it launched today for Android phones, though it’s been available in the iPhone App Store since last year.
My6sense connects with Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz (in Android only, for now) and RSS feeds, and tries to display the most interesting content on top. At first, the selection is a crapshoot, picking out stories and status updates that are getting a lot of responses. Over time, the app digs through everything you click on to determine your favorite publications, authors, keywords and topics. It also considers how long you spend reading a particular story, separating skimmed articles from ones that hold your attention.
I haven’t used My6sense enough to get past the initial stages of randomness, but already I can tell that the app is throwing away some insubstantial news articles and Tweets about breakfast. Even when you command My6sense to include status updates that don’t have links, it still puts a heavy emphasis on link Tweets.
This is clearly a consumption tool; you can share stories, but can’t post any original content to Facebook or Twitter from the app. In that regard, I see My6sense as part of the new breed of apps and services that distill social networking into pure content curation. But while Flipboard and paper.li rely on other people to pick the best stories, My6sense trusts the process to a computer algorithm. Which system works better is, fortunately, still left for humans to decide.