Social Reading User Interface for Discovery

I read quite a bit of material online. I save “bookmarks” of all of it on my personal website, sometimes with some additional notes and sometimes even with more explicit annotations. One of the things I feel like I’m missing from my browser, browser extensions, and/or social feed reader is a social layer overlay that could indicate that people in my social network(s) have read or interacted directly with that page (presuming they make that data openly available.)

One of the things I’d love to see pop up out of the discovery explorations of the IndieWeb or some of the social readers in the space is the ability to uncover some of this social reading information. Toward this end I thought I’d collect some user interface examples of things that border on this sort of data to make the brainstorming and building of such functionality easier in the near future.

If I’m missing useful examples or you’d like to add additional thoughts, please feel free to comment below.

Examples of social reading user interface for discovery

Google

I don’t often search for reading material directly, but Google has a related bit of UI indicating that I’ve visited a website before. I sort of wish it had the ability to surface the fact that I’ve previously read or bookmarked an article or provided data about people in my social network who’ve done similarly within the browser interface for a particular article (without the search.) If a browser could use data from my personal website in the background to indicate that I’ve interacted with it before (and provide those links, notes, etc.), that would be awesome!

Screen capture for Google search of Kevin Marks with a highlight indicating that I've visited this page in the recent past
Screen capture for Google search of Kevin Marks with a highlight indicating that I’ve visited his page several times in the past. Given the March 2017 date, it’s obvious that the screen shot is from a browser and account I don’t use often.

I’ll note here that because of the way I bookmark or post reads on my own website, my site often ranks reasonably well for those things.

On a search for an article by Aaron Parecki, my own post indicating that I’ve read it in the past ranks second right under the original.

In some cases, others who are posting about those things (reading, commenting, bookmarking, liking, etc.) in my social network also show up in these sorts of searches. How cool would it be to have a social reader that could display this sort of social data based on people it knows I’m following

A search for a great article by Matthias Ott shows that both I and several of my friends (indicated by red arrows superimposed on the search query) have read, bookmarked, or commented on it too.

Hypothes.is

Hypothes.is is a great open source highlighting, annotation, and bookmarking tool with a browser extension that shows an indicator of how many annotations  appear on the page. In my experience, higher numbers often indicate some interesting and engaging material. I do wish that it had a follower/following model that could indicate my social sphere has annotated a page. I also wouldn’t mind if their extension “bug” in the browser bar had another indicator in the other corner to indicate that I had previously annotated a page!

Screen capture of Vannevar Bush’s article As We May Think in The Atlantic with a Hypothes.is browser extension bug indicating that there are 329 annotations on the page.

Reading.am

It doesn’t do it until after-the-fact, but Reading.am has a pop up overlay through its browser extension. It adds me to the list of people who’ve read an article, but it also indicates others in the network and those I’m following who have also read it (sometimes along with annotations about their thoughts).

What I wouldn’t give to see that pop up in the corner before I’ve read it!

Reading.am’s social layer creates a yellow colored pop up list in the upper right of the browser indicating who else has read the article as well as showing some of their notes on it. Unfortunately it doesn’t pop up until after you’ve marked the item as read.

Nuzzel

Nuzzel is one of my favorite tools. I input my Twitter account as well as some custom lists and it surfaces articles that people in my Twitter network have been tweeting about. As a result, it’s one of the best discovery tools out there for solid longer form content. Rarely do I read content coming out of Nuzzel and feel robbed. Because of how it works, it’s automatically showing those people in my network and some of what they’ve thought about it. I love this contextualization.

Nuzzel’s interface shows the title and an excerpt of an article and also includes the avatars, names, network, and commentary of one’s friends that interacted with the piece. In this example it’s relatively obvious that one reader influenced several others who retweeted it because of her.

Goodreads

Naturally sites for much longer form content will use social network data about interest, reviews, and interaction to a much greater extent since there is a larger investment of time involved. Thus social signaling can be more valuable in this context. A great example here is of Goodreads which shows me those in my network who are interested in reading a particular book or who have written reviews or given ratings.

A slightly excerpted/modified screen capture of the Goodreads page for Melanie Mitchell’s book Complexity that indicates several in my social network are also interested in reading it.

Are there other examples I’m missing? Are you aware of similar discovery related tools for reading that leverage social network data?

👓 Don’t just Google it! First, let’s talk! | Jon Udell

Read Don’t just Google it! First, let’s talk! by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)
Asking questions in conversation has become problematic. For example, try saying this out loud: “I wonder when Martin Luther King was born?” If you ask that online, a likely response is: “Just Google it!” Maybe with a snarky link: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=when was martin luther king born? https:...

I love the idea of this… It’s very similar to helping to teach young children how to attack and solve problems in mathematics rather than simply saying follow this algorithm.

👓 Thursday, June 20, 2019 | Scripting News

Read Thursday, June 20, 2019 (Scripting News)
When you buy something online that there is no Consumer Reports or Wirecutter review of, how do you decide what to get? There are a lot of what appear to be review sites on the web, but I guess they're all ads for what they recommend. I don't think the search engines have gotten around to this yet. Here's a search for "best bike cover." Which if any of them are serious criticism by people who know the area.

👓 Search Everything | WordPress.org

Read Search Everything by Sovrn, zemanta (WordPress.org)
Search Everything improves WordPress default search functionality without modifying any of the template pages. You can configure it to search pages, excerpts, attachments, drafts, comments, tags and custom fields (metadata) and you can specify your own search highlight style. It also off...

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S.H.E. is helping take the bias out of search. Add S.H.E. to your browser to give women’s transformations the visibility the deserve.

This is an excellent looking tool.

📑 Why you should say HTML classes, CSS class selectors, or CSS pseudo-classes, but not CSS classes | Tantek

Annotated Why you should say HTML classes, CSS class selectors, or CSS pseudo-classes, but not CSS classes by Tantek ÇelikTantek Çelik (tantek.com)
Ah for a decent world wide blog posts search engine.  

Ha! Look who’s talking. 🙂

👓 Scoping Out Basics of #IndieWeb Search | Greg McVerry

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Over the weekend I met with the CEO of BLUR Search Technologies . Jaime is also my brother-in-Law, and has  sponsored IndieWebCamp NYC in 2018. We mainly gathered for Thanskgiving, the second Thanksgiving, and finally leftovers. As we all played clean the fridge we snuck away to scope out a possibl...

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Read On blog search engines by Colin Devroe (cdevroe.com)
Brent Simmons has been reminiscing about blog search engines and writing down some ideas for how one could be made today. Something he wrote sparked a memory.
Instead of having it crawl blogs, I’d have it download and index RSS feeds. This should be cheaper than crawling pages, and it ensures that it skips indexing page junk (navigation and so on).

👓 More Thoughts at Random on Blog Search Engines | Brent Simmons

Read More Thoughts at Random on Blog Search Engines by Brent Simmons (inessential.com)
I can dream about how I’d build one of these. (I’m not going to! This is way outside my expertise, and I have other things to do.)

👓 Wishing for Blog Search Engines | Brent Simmons

Read Wishing for Blog Search Engines by Brent Simmons (inessential.com)
One thing I wish we had that we used to have: blog-only search engines. You could go and search for a hash tag. Or for links to your blog or elsewhere. Or for keywords. Etc. It should have an API that returns RSS, so RSS reader users could set up persistent, updated searches. There used to be a bunch of these, and now there are none that I know of.

It’s not exactly an implementation of Webmention, but I was interested to find that there’s a tool from Hypothes.is that will show you (all?) the annotations (and replies) on your website.

Just visit https://jonudell.info/h/facet/ and then enter the appropriate domain name followed by /* as a wildcard to search.

Examples for:

Now wouldn’t it be cool if this were available in the main UI? Perhaps if there were a button for “Site notes” or highlights? This may be unwieldy for the New York Times, but could be reasonable and very useful for smaller personal and/or academic based websites.

The user interface for the side bar of Hypothesis with a "Site Notes" element added in red next to "Annotations" and "Page Notes"

🔖 Listen Notes: The best podcast search engine

Bookmarked Listen Notes: The best podcast search engine by Wenbin FangWenbin Fang (Listen Notes)
The most comprehensive podcast database online. Discover best podcasts. Search podcast show notes and audio transcripts by people, places, or topics.

An interesting looking service to be sure. Reminds me a bit of some of the functionality of Jeremy Keith’s Huffduffer, but it’s also a social silo of sorts for listening related content. It allows you to bookmark podcast episodes to listen later and includes an RSS feed for those so you can subscribe directly to your feed in a podcast player. It also does listen clips and comments. Sadly it doesn’t look like its got listen posts to allow you to keep track of what you’ve actually listened to. It does have an API for those who want to play around with it though.

I’m curious what folks like Kim Hansen, Ben Werdmüller, or Erin Jo Richey think of it. Are there better small tools out there?

hat tip: This Week in Google

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Read Unbubble.eu: Search Engine: neutral + private – US Version by Brad Brad (Brad Enslen)
Source: European Search Engine: neutral & confident – US Version This is a quickie, first impressions introduction. Unbubble bills itself as a European meta search engine, based in Germany with all other operations based inside the EU.  Normally I don’t get too excited about meta search engines...