Thinking about yet another little project I gotta do...

In the background, we’re starting to think a lot about what and how we want to improve the user experience for reviews.com…as part of that, I’m spending quite a bit of time just thinking about reviews as a whole.

What they are used for. Why people care about them. What they generally consist of. How often people really want to read them. What data and assumptions can be grepped from them. And a whole slew of other questions like this.

While going through this ‘brainstorming’ I’ve also been thinking a lot about reading in general…and it occurred to me that there is probably room for a 'Twitter for reading’…that is, instead of “What are you doing?”…it would be “What are you reading?”

Now I know to a certain extent librarything.com does this…and I think goodreads.com might as well…but I’m pretty sure none are actually doing just what I envision.

Here’s my basic thinking:

1. It needs to be dead simple and paired down to just a few core features (very much like Twitter).

2. In fact it needs to be tightly integrated with Twitter at least to start (using the simple search.twitter.com API you can do a search for 'reading’ and get lots of goodness for the site/service right there – if people are already sharing in this way, why not capitalize on it?).

3. In addition to the simple “What are you reading?” question, there should be one or two simple options that you can log with it (I don’t know what the specific options would be just yet, but something along the lines of “enjoying it”, “loving it”, “about to give up on it”, etc.)

4. Using more of the Twitter search API, The Amazon API, probably a semantic API of some sorts, and the very data collected by the system itself…the service should also be able to tell you other similar 'reads’ that are 'liked’.

5. Possibly allow for commenting on or around the different things currently being 'read’ (though honestly I think this might already be covered enough by some of the other services I mentioned).

6. Unlike Twitter, it wouldn’t be about following certain readers (though I guess you might want to do that)…it would be more about following certain 'read’ items and/or genres/types of content.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with the idea phase of this so far…

For the most part it doesn’t seem that unreasonable to try and build (though there are a few small technical challenges I can already for see as well as some interesting UI design challenges)…and I’ve already got the domain name betaread.com (from another project idea that I never got around to doing)…so I guess the only thing to do next is get started!

The advantage to this (if I do end up building it) is that I think it would be both popular and useful to readers as well as reviewers (and as a side benefit hugely valuable to publishers)…and overall, something that could really help reviews.com! Guess we’ll see.

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

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