As Adam mentioned here, a few of us recently got invited to test out Streamy, a new social news service. Since you can’t even see the interface unless you have an account, not much is really known about it yet, but a lot of buzz has been circulating. A headline on Digg proclaimed it to be the Digg killer, but honestly that’s way off base, and I’ll get to that later.
So what is Streamy? Many things! For my purposes, its chief component is the RSS reader. Web-based RSS readers are a dime a dozen these days. I’ve been a Google Reader junkie for the past few months, but Streamy has won me over. While the interface still isn’t fully tweaked, I find that I can actually get through the news much quicker with Streamy than I ever could with Google Reader. I have even added some feeds since I have the extra time.
But what separates this from other services is the social aspect. Far from being a social network based on purely social reasons, Streamy lets you easily share news with your friends, discover news based on what your friends have been reading, and discover even more news from the collective intelligence of all Streamy users that matches up to what you might be interested in (and in case you’re wondering, it’s right most of the time).
Sharing news is a cinch. All you have to do is drag the article title to the friend/group you want to share it with. You also have access to the “Friends Save Stream” which shows you all items that your friends have saved.
On the topic of dragging, nearly everything is dragable. The interface is incredibly well designed, stretching AJAX past where I’ve seen it before. When you drag the article title, you get three icons: Save Story, Share Story, and Email Story. If you’re in an IM, you can drag a story to the IM window to share it with the person(s) you’re talking with. When you drag a person, you see Send IM, View Profile, and Save Stream, which shows you all stories they have saved.
The IM system is simple and straight-forward, and on top of that, you can talk to your AIM buddies inside Streamy (and support for more protocols is coming).
There’s a Twitter-like “Update” interface that allows you to post public messages about whatever you want.
While some of this seems unrelated, it really fits together quite well. If there were a mini-browser window inside Streamy to check my email, and IRC integration, I would never have to leave Streamy. I find myself spending less and less time outside of Streamy when I’m online.
As far as looks, it’s shiny. I normally don’t like shiny, because it seems like frequently sites are designed to be shiny instead of functional. This is both. There are two themes (so far at least), that are basically a blue version and black/gray version of the same theme. There are minimal transition animations and fades, but it’s not just for the aesthetic appeal, it helps show you what is going on.
While all this is good and well, the best part of the experience is the responsiveness of Jonathan Gray and Donald Mosites, the two developers who do 95% of the work. We frequently have group chats with Don and Jon and discuss likes/dislikes, suggestions, bugs, etc, and they take everything we say seriously, and have made changes based on these discussions. Granted, at the moment there are around 100-150 users, so this level of responsiveness will be unattainable once the site is more popular, however their attitudes early on show that they’re really making a product that people want, not just what they want.
Is there anything I don’t like? Well, the shortcut keys aren’t as intuitive as they could be, but they’re still working on that. Even as they are now, it’s very efficient, and will only get better. Occasionaly there will be a brief period when feeds don’t update, but this is when they’re working on the code. So I can safely say, there’s nothing about it I don’t like that isn’t related to the fact that it’s in constant development at this stage.
Now, is it a Digg killer? Absolutely not! It’s not the same idea at all. In fact, I have Digg set up as one of my feeds. I see Streamy (and sites that may copy it’s idea) becoming an important service for many people, particularly people who are as addicted as I am to RSS. It could also appeal to the Social Networking crowd, but it is definitely not a social network in the typical sense. There will be plenty of people who come over from Digg, and plenty of people from Digg who won’t see the point at all. That’s fine, that’s the way the Internets work. But I highly doubt that many will REPLACE Digg with Streamy. I know I still couldn’t live without the Digg front page stories.
So in closing, keep Streamy on your list of sites to watch! It has changed the way I see RSS and news gathering in general, and it might just do the same for you.
This article is also posted here.