Dashboard for the hive mind

Recently I surveyed the emerging web filters which rely on consensus methods (see the CT review) as a way to quickly read what was happening in the world. I hypothesized that soon there would be a meta-site that would aggregate all the consensus filters into one. The next day Thomas Marban from Austria wrote me to say that he had already written one, called PopUrls. I’ve been using it daily for the past month and its great.

This single page now replaces my need to directly read Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Furl, Slashdot, BoingBoing, NewsVine, Metafilter and all the others that I subscribe too. This one page encapsulates up-to-the-minute headlines from 15 consensus filters, and top thumbnail images from the social sites Flickr, YouTube, and Google Video. The hive mind on one screen.

Here’s how I use it. On one page I can scan the latest headlines of what the web collectively thinks is either popular or interesting. A simple mouse over the headline will cleverly reveal a small box of expanded text on the article. If I want even more, a click will open the original entry in the filter. In five minutes I can scan 18 social site sources thoroughly. I get an excellent feel for what is new and what is worth following up (a small amount of overlap between sources helps).

The design of PopUrls is brilliant. There’s two flavors, black on white or white on black. Function drives form, buttons are minimal. It feels like a well-designed command post for a concise debriefing. Even on a large screen, like the 21-incher I use, there’s a bit of scrolling. But I’ve come to realize that I MUCH prefer this single fixed sheet to endless RSS feeds in a reader. In fact, the page is essentially an improved interface for multiple RSS feeds, which keep PopUrls constantly updated. The dashboard doesn’t move, while all the streams flowing into it keep it lively.

There’s no better way to watch the hive mind.

-- KK 04/27/06

(PopUrls is now HVPER — editors)

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