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Like competing social media, Google+ allows you to follow friends but the ability to follow topics is very limited. At the moment we have "Sparks". They could do a lot better. I realize it would be a stretch to modify Google+ too far in this direction but surely they could do something to integrate topic-based and people-based following.

I filed some patents on this topic for Google when I was there in 2004-2006 and four have been approved. Use link below for a list if interested in what I believe real-time social media should really look like. Note that the invention in question significantly predates Twitter and all other social media except IRC and is therefore phrased as discussing "chat" but it's definitely applicable to Tweets and other real-time social media posts and covers vital parts of real-time search.

Disclaimer: I have no clue whether Google has used or is planning to use anything from these patents. As far as I can tell, Google patents new ideas for defensive purposes and may have little interest in implementing this kind of system. I gave the invention to Google (I actually invented it around 2002) since I believe they are the only organization that could pull this off at the required scale. I don't intend to discuss anything except what is said in these publicly available patents and some personal opinions unrelated to my previous work at Google.

I named my system "Pandemonium" but that name never caught on at Google. Still, I'd like to call these the "Pandemonium Patents" for the sake of discussion.

I want to use a Pandemonium system more than I want to build one. It would support real-time collaborative thinking about specific issues in massive groups of competent people and would be much more addictive and useful to just watch than even television.
Daniel Durrant's profile photoAndrew Carpenter's profile photoRoss Hall's profile photoAlex Schleber's profile photo
by following a topic first I can better understand the context in which conversations are taking place. Typical social streams get way too scrambled and noisy. still uses topic streams.
+Daniel Durrant interesting, will have to look at this more when I have time. Overall I'd say several of my painstakingly curated Twitter Lists are serving that purpose, and I agree that the readability goes way up if either: 1) the cohesiveness of the topics is relatively high, or 2) the quality of the stream is such that almost every tweet is a winner, i.e. the users followed by the List have very high Signal-to-Noise ratio.

Thanks for sharing Alex. Curated lists help, but following a topic that aggregates the best signals would be so much sweeter. Just my two cents.
If you do it search-based alone, you always have the problem of some people spamming the topic (e.g. a #hashtag on Twitter, or a Group/Room on Friendfeed). So you need to have the ability to curate a top notch list of sources that you trust, or go off of the curation work done by someone else.

This is how Blekko solves the spam/SEO issue in basic Web search for example.

And if you do algo-based user rankings a la Klout, you'll still have people gaming that, as well as clicque issues like on Quora, as well as Digg before it.

Search/surface over curated Lists is the Holy Grail...
Alex, the patents discuss some ways of mitigating spam - see the one about "voting".

In other news, my company (post-Google) is working on automated curation systems.
+Monica Anderson Curation can never be fully automated. If it is, it invites gaming of the algo(s). I'll have a look at the patents when I have time. Voting alone didn't solve the problem of e.g. Digg getting high-jacked by a small clique of power users.
Someday we will have social software that allows us to form any ad hoc groupings on any basis we like including running arbitrary functions against the message flow and social data.
A patent: "Chat system without topic-specific rooms". What a concept!
Alex, Curation can't be automated using existing techniques. But we're talking about software systems that understand language. I'll be posting more about these things shortly.
Yes. Sparks is just a reworking of google reader to some extent and so they should work to better integrate the Google Reader app into this. I would very much like that, rather than having google spoon feed me what it believes I might find interesting.
+Monica Anderson Software systems using ontologies of data relationships, machine learning, web 3.0, semantics, etc. combined with algorithms that are designed to pick up on hints of what the user is interested in, and what topics people post on, could really improve any social network, including G+. The user picks the content. The system lessens the noise. This loop continues.
+Monica Anderson Regarding your research on AI and AN, I have a couple ideas I'd like to share with you.
These 2 things are related.
Here is a link:

"What do you want to do today?"

If I posed this question to a friend, they would automatically assume that I want to do something today. It doesn't have to be said. It's inferred by what question I asked. There could be a lot more examples, but the point I'm making is that when someone talks to someone they are always influencing and impacting thought.

I would Highly recommend reading the book, "The Secret of Mental Majic."
It's available free on Google Books. It's written from a philosophical standpoint about the mind.

How else can there be social computing Behavior or Real AI, if there is no subtle influence Understood by Both the humans and the Bots?

I would put bets on the prediction that once AI is good it will be good because of a software framework that includes Emotional states.(states of mind, desires, differing priorities, etc.)

OK, I'm gettin super excited just talking about this.
Can't wait to hear some feedback! :)
+Andrew Carpenter Zite is a pretty good personalized web filter and search engine. I also use Genieo which gets messy if your browsing habits are kind of unpredictable, like mine. My6sense apparently does something like this, but doesn't work for me. Also, could be interesting as it supposedly uses an AI to relay better content to you over time. I didn't really like its UX and it didn't catch on to my preferences quickly enough so I just gave up on it and stuck with Zite. It's the best I have found thus far, but am really looking forward to getting an iPad and testing the Futureful discovery app, which is presently in private beta. Are any of these measuring memes or their emotional influence, probably not. So, I think you may be onto something and am open to hear more of the potential benefits you see coming from this technology. I can also share some of mine, but hesitate to do so on this public thread.

Nice to meet you Andrew,

I frequently use my6sense on my Android.
It works ok.
I wish I could try out Zite, but I only have Android.
I just made a account and a Genieo account.

Thanks for the recommendations!
Yes, I would like to hear any more ideas you have about AI, machine learning, etc. I am by no means an expert, but I do have imagination. :)
I like Sparks. They're neat, simple and with enough imprecision to make them interesting. More or less taking over from my old iCurrent account now.
I consider the current implementation of Sparks no more than a "stub" = placeholder for more later. G+ has been here for 3 months, so in my book, "later" has pretty much arrived...
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