PREFACE: Thoora has since shut its doors and shut down its servers. R.I.P. little engine that could. You can read the draft to my would-be article below, originally promised in Ah! Life is Great and Crazy.
Technology is a fast-thinking beast that requires its tamers and developers to read tens of articles a day to keep up; I need a research assistant like Thoora. Thoora is an engine feeding me my news on a daily basis, amongst other things. It’s a site with a mobile app coming soon. It’s a straightforward product until you realize Thoora not only outputs the RSS feeds you tell it, it learns what you like according to articles you heart and those you trash.
Maybe you’re my kind of geek and have already thought, “Everyone’s throwing semantic around, and Google Reader works with a bunch of apps.” Kinda true, but keep considering it as a replacement to your current information processing solution, because this isn’t an aggregator as much as a database.
Manage the Input
Information processing solution: it’s a broad term I’m using in lieu of a better word that blankets all the different kinds of apps we use to manage our articles, tweets, and the like. There’s a plethora of desktop, web, mobile, email, and cloud solutions that pool our information together, categorize it, color-code it, or just email it. But Thoora has serious semantic horsepower under its clean UI.
Thoora digests keywords you input, scours the net for related articles, and infuses them into your stream. Well, one of your streams. You can have as many “Topics” as you like. And within each Topic is a tab for News, Feeds, Tweets, Favorites (where your heart’d items live), and a tab called Topic DNA that details the parameters you’ve input: the keywords, the feeds, the Twitter handles you’ve added, the number of favored items, and so on.
To best explain how these features work together, I have to walk you through my own experience using Thoora. As you know from my use of “information processing solution,” its unique qualities don’t always lend themselves to the common vernacular.
I created a “Digital and Social Media” Topic to start since that’s what most interests me. Keywords seemed a logical and familiar place to begin, so I added a few keywords of interest (limit of 15):
semantic web | Apple Inc | web design, web development | Facebook | Twitter | Android | Microsoft | Tumblr | social media | graphic design | digital arts | technology | digital media | Google
The results of this internet-wide keyword search show up in your News tab. The interface lets you know where the article is from, so I know the engine uses the sites I enter in my Feed tab, as well as a slew of reputable sites and some algorithmic magic.
Right now, Thoora gives you the option of visiting the article on the original site, and it gives you a fairly large preview of the article–at least, it’s enough for me to make an informed decision whether it’s worth clicking, or sharing for that matter. Just today, Thoora added article-specific share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Thoora is Twitter-happy
Then, I added some Tweeps to my Topic.
The engine lets you add as many Twitter handles as you like, it seems, so I didn’t hold back. I tried to stay as diverse as possible. I added myself to the stream to see how my tweets stacks up to other social media tweeps. That’s just one of the many little ways Thoora’s been helping me keep my Twitter stream alive.
That’s what got me thinking Thoora can be a useful social media measuring stick. Functions that accompany articles — I’m looking at you, “More like this” button – enable users to witness how heavy the buzz on a news item is. I’ve purposely avoided hearting articles on Jobs’ resignation because of the number of articles the event generated; I don’t want any more showing up in my News results than already are. Similarly, I’ve noticed my stream was leaning too heavily toward the social media side, often missing articles on all the technology and culture that sustains social media; so, I started hearting more articles on topics ranging from tablets to sexting.
I made one last change by choosing to categorize articles by popularity. From there, the only actions I need to make to benefit the stream is keep hearting my favorite news articles, feed items, and tweets. Since the stream followers can see my favorites as well as any notes I tag to those favorite items, it builds on the trust followers have in my stream and in me.
Thoora: More Trust, Lots of Autonomy, Much Less Action
It’s that last part that elevates Thoora above its competitors: Thoora helps me earn the trust of my followers. Because I can interact with the data, the Topic results are only as good as I make them. Implicitly or explicitly, the Topic followers know that I have to know the field to create a Topic that produces referrals valuable to their knowledge. So, as Thoora helps me build my knowledge base, it also helps me build my credibility. I can truly be an “au-THOORA-ty” on a topic. As someone who is constantly seeking knowledge, I can share my resources with others in a streaming interface that doesn’t require me to notify followers of each link, nor does it require me t0 abbreviate my thoughts. (No less love for ya, Twitter, but you know what I’m saying, baby. You’re short.)
Best of all, I don’t have to entice anyone to click anything, yet my Topic continues to gain followers. Thoora is just just another example of web media pooling and disseminating humanity’s collective knowledge, yet it’s also a workable solution to your information overload. It’s a lot to take in, but once you get started with Thoora, you’ll be hooked on creating the perfect stream for you.
Update: I didn’t notice this until I looked at the header screenshot above; Thoora’s added an Images tab now that pools together the feature images of articles in your News tab. It may or may not also pick up the images from the Tweets tab.
Suggested post: Who is an au-THOORA-ty? #2: Social Media Marketer, http://blog.thoora.com/?p=824