flipboard, the new digg and stream fatigue // 05 Aug 2010

I've been enjoying Flipboard the past few days: the design is engaging, the flipping animation addictive, and their content channels are well-packaged.

The most interesting feature, of course, is the social aggregation.  Flipboard isn't the most efficient way to catch up on Twitter and Facebook, but flipping through what my friends are posting and linking to is fun. And maybe it's a function of the people I'm following, but the pages the app generates are sometimes just plain weird.  In a good way.  Like this.

Flipboard-2

Ah...some sort of moldy cheesebread from a woman wearing black lipstick...and a story about Vic Gundotra, together at last. Outcomes like this are what make Flipboard such a gutsy product:  people are messy, their social/interest graphs are messy, and algorithmically forcing the flat stream of posts into a hierarchical magazine-style layout is bound to produce some odd results.

Now compare Flipboard to the new Digg.

New-digg

Digg may have a ton more going on behind the scenes re. content distribution, community-based filtering, social-filtering etc...and all those algorithms may produce a more effective newsfeed. But it doesn't feel half as fun. It feels like work. And engaging with media shouldn't feel like work.

Flipboard's cut up machine as social news reader may not work as a mass product. And Flipboard will likely tune their algorithms to make the pages seem a little less random (though I personally hope not). But their magazine-style layout, coupled with the iPad form factor, has afforded them the opportunity to create something compelling.