Our social platforms are full of information and links floating through them. Keeping up with them is incredibly difficult. In that flow of information and links, things that might not be of interest are mixed with items that could have great interest. Catching the items of interest and those at the core of discussions requires keeping a watchful eye. Many will attest that the adage about social networks—"if the information is important, it will find us"—really doesn't work.
Some services help close the gap of catching things that could be valuable to us. A couple that have captured my interest are Summify and News.me. Both of those services pay attention to our personal social networks and then deliver—by e-mail, mobile app and/or Web—items that are popular within the people whom we follow in our own network.
Most services provide the most popular snippets from the whole of the service, such as the one LinkedIn offers, but generic popular offerings often aren't that valuable. Finding a highlight service that looks for links being shared and that fits your interests is difficult. Often the people we are connected to are a good option, but even that can be tricky because it depends on how you have built your connections in the social platforms (are they people you know and whose input you value?) and how the people you have connected to use the various platforms and services.
Of the two similar services, Summify works better for me. It has been bought by Twitter and has been incorporated into Twitter. As of June 22, 2012, Summify no longer exists as its own product. Many services have been similar and new ones are surfacing (they often start and change direction or close relatively quickly), so I am framing what Summify has been doing well and seems to be continuing in Twitter's iteration of the service.
Summify offered to connect with my Twitter account, as well as my Facebook account, and I could choose one or both to provide as a connection source. Summify looks for links shared by people you follow, and when the same link surfaces in a few connections, it carries greater relevance to pass along to you. The service allows you to say how many items you would like it to surface in each e-mail, up to two e-mails a day and up to 15 linked items in each e-mail.
One of the interesting things has been how this changed Twitter consumption and use for me. The quality of links in Summify e-mails are quite on target. I had already seen some of the items, and nearly all of them were items in which I had an interest. But, the most amazing thing is I didn't feel like I needed to check Twitter as often. I had the good links surface to me, which I somehow missed even when I thought I was paying attention. I had been waiting for a service to do that for a while.
News.me is a similar service to Summify that came out of a New York Times hack competition. It offers services to connect and watch Facebook and Twitter, but doesn't yet have the ability to adjust the frequency, volume of items or time in the e-mails. The quality of the links is not quite the same as Summify, but it is still good. News.me will benefit from more time, honing and adding some options similar to Summify.
These services are not intended to replace interacting or to be your only resource, but they help catch the things that have fallen through the gaps. While Summify decreased my dependence on the need to be in Twitter as much scanning for gems (I'm down to 40 minutes a day scanning and interacting, from two hours or more), I am still spending time in Twitter streams. When I get the links, I open them and put them into my usual process for reading and storing them for future recall, which works really well.