Turning inner space into outer space

June 16, 2012

Prismatic makes progress with the addition of new feeds

Since last I looked at Prismatic, and expressed my disappointment, the news aggregation site has added features that make it more useful — but I still have some reservations.

First the improvements. At first, Prismatic’s stream of suggestions was based solely on your Twitter feed. That’s not as bad as it sounds, because then as now there are plenty of opportunities to explore related articles. Prismatic now allows you to add feeds for Facebook and Google Reader — or “bootstrap” them, as they call it.

I added Google Reader to the mix and noticed a definite improvement to the story mix. I would have added Facebook as well, but my account is so neglected that it didn’t seem worthwhile.

Even so, since I’m an avid user of Twitter and Google Reader, I’ve been getting plenty of good material based on my interests. The catch is, though, that you have to learn to explore. Otherwise, you’re just looking at a remix of what you could have seen — in a more complete form — from Twitter and Google Reader themselves.

There are two main ways to explore. One is by clicking on a “related stories” link. I had mixed success with this. For example, after reading a fascinating story about the newspaper bubble of the 1990s, I clicked the link and was presented with a list of articles dominated by politics and finance. To be fair, there were a few newspaper-related stories as well.

Another way to explore is with the sidebar. Click on a globe icon and you have the options of performing a search or clicking on one of several related topics. I’ve had some good success with this, and found myself wandering far afield. I felt a little insecure doing this, though, because there isn’t an intuitive way of getting back to the original feed — home. You’d think clicking on a “house” icon would do the trick, but it doesn’t. After clicking on this icon, you have to look for a smaller version that shows up beside “Interests” to go home. (See the image above.) There has to be a better way.

Prismatic can’t and won’t replace your Twitter and Google Reader addictions. You’ll still have to check them regularly to make sure you don’t miss anything. Where Prismatic shines is with it’s ability to explore in areas you might not have been exposed to otherwise — finding hidden gems along the way. But really, I need a way to easily get back home.

Update: Prismatic has changed the “Interests” link to “Home”. Have they been reading my humble blog?