Filtering for Relevance with my6sense

As a champion of Relevance over Numbers, I have been happy to see the increasing popularity of my6sense – a mobile app for iPhone and Android that uses Digital Intuition to filter your social streams and provide you with personalized, relevant content.

my6sense_Home my6sense_AddContent

my6sense is simply the best tool to catch up with updates from your social networks. It works with Twitter, Google Buzz, and Facebook to get content, and you can also import your Google Reader feeds and add any specific websites if you wish. The mobile app allows you to share the content easily on any of the networks you’ve connected. The latest version 1.4 lets you post status updates and features a smart widget.

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It is a tricky challenge for me to write an unbiased review of my6sense because I am not a representative user. Hence, I will write about the limitations I experienced when using the app, and also attempt to assess it from the perspective of an average user.

Digital Intuition Engine

There is a period of learning required for the relevance engine to understand your personal preference for content. The app tracks which items you click, how long you spend time reading items, and which items you share, to gauge the relevance of items to you.

Within 2-3 days of using the app, I could start ‘sensing’ the digital intuition engine. The more time you spend using it, the better it gets.

my6sense_Item_Menu my6sense_Settings_Content

I have previously written about different approaches to filtering information for relevance. my6sense uses a combination of filtering based on social graph and algorithms. It assesses whose tweets and Google Reader shares interest you the most from your social graph, and uses semantic analysis of the linked content to determine relevance.

One of the things I liked is that the focus is purely on relevance – so-called influencers are not given a boost and your content is truly personalized.

Why I Am Not A Representative User

Before going further, I need to explain in brief why this app is not part of my daily news reading routine.

  • As technology news editors, we often break stories virtually in real-time before they are covered by tech blogs. my6sense is not meant for discovering breaking news.
  • I have written several times about how I am brutal in curating my sources. I follow a few hundred people on Twitter and between 25-30 on Google Reader/Buzz. my6sense is more suited for those who follow a large number of people.
  • I spend very few hours every morning to catch up with news and spend the rest of the day covering breaking news. my6sense is more suited for those who have more than a 12 hour backlog.

Limitations & Recommendations

  1. My most relevant content on Twitter is in my Techmeme Leaderboard Twitter List. I do not follow any of these Twitter accounts. There is no way I can tell my6sense to focus on a specific Twitter List for relevant content. I suspect a lot of heavy Twitter users use Lists to organize their following and I would rate this support to be a high priority requirement.
  2. There is no two-way sync between Google Reader and my6sense. Items read via Streams in my6sense are not correspondingly Mark As Read in Google Reader. You can share items on Google Buzz but they don’t seem to be shared in Google Reader. As I have a dedicated Google Reader following, this necessitates an unnecessary duplication of effort. It would be great if items shared on Buzz are shared on Google Reader as well.
  3. No desktop or web-based version.
  4. In the Streams view, it would be helpful to have counts of the items similar to unread counts shown in Google Reader. I found myself checking each folder in turn, only to find no items within it.
  5. Imported steams from Google Reader appear to be stale. It continues to show items that I have already previously read and shared, while new items are not always shown. For example, here are two screenshots of a feed folder taken at the same time while writing this post:



These are essentially the reasons why my6sense is not a part of my daily news reading routine.

The Incredible Potential

I have already written about how my6sense is part of the Personalized Serendipity Quadrant in my Relevancy Matrix – the hottest space for many startups today. After having tried many services aiming for personalized relevance, I can say without hesitation that my6sense’s Digital Intuition Engine is way ahead. It’s combination of semantic analysis and social graph filtering provides a unique experience that you can intuitively feel working for you.

The mobile apps are said to be just a demo of the powerful API provided by the backend. It is exciting to think of the possibilities in which this engine can be utilized. From personalized content on publishers’ websites to integration with Twitter clients – my6sense has potential to unlock relevance in the ever-increasing information deluge. With Barak Hachamov’s vision and Louis Gray’s marketing, there is incredible promise indeed.

For most average users, who need to catch up with news and shares from social networks, I would heartily recommend my6sense in the Top 5 ‘must-have’ mobile app category.

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  • Mahendra, thanks for taking the time to check out my6sense! I’ve been awaiting your review precisely because you are a lot like me. We are the weird ones. 🙂

    All your feedback is good feedback – and you are not the first to see these things, of course.

    1) Twitter List support would be nice. You can review a single RSS feed and sort that by relevance. It’d be nice to do the same for Twitter Lists. The only catch, of course, is getting sucked into the rabbit hole of optimizing for social media tools and missing our key focus! So… yes, we’re listening.

    2) I would love Google Reader sync as well. I get the same duplication you do when I operate in the same way you do. my6sense delivers to me the most benefits when applied to my social networks, where I don’t have the need to read everything and get read of my unread items.

    3) Desktop? Web? 🙂 We started with mobile. Don’t expect us to be done.

    4) Unread counts by streams… hmmm. Maybe that should be a toggle on/off preference?

    5) I hate stale feeds. I am hoping what you saw was a network issue. The “6 items only” could be due to the folder in Reader and the fact you limited to the last 24 hours? So let’s see if you run into this again.

    On a side note, I am glad you are “Active” on my6sense. Good start. Keep going, and it gets tremendously better. Even if you kept your usual Google Reader behavior, give it a shot for Facebook/Buzz/Twitter and see it improve!

    More updates from us soon.

  • Louis, thanks for the detailed response. Appreciate the quick turnaround and response.

    Re 5) I hope but don’t think it was a network issue as I see it all the time. The ‘6 items only’ are shown when there are 8 unread new items in Reader in the same folder, and several of those six are already read many hours back, while fresh items are not shown. I don’t wish to turn this comment section into a support forum :), so will post on GetSatisfaction if I see it again.