19 shades of Sharknado: when noise becomes signal

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether Pullquote is a tool for the super-quick sharing of specific text on Twitter (and maybe soon on other social platforms) or a tool for filleting long pieces of text into discrete ideas and facts which can then be filed away for future reference and/or easily discovered by others who are interested in the same specific topic.

Watching #Sharknado erupt last night on Twitter convinced me that we desperately need the latter tool. We’ve always known that Twitter is a firehose. Now we’ve reached the point that each Twitter user is a firehose.

While I drown in this ocean of #Sharknado, I wonder what it would be like to just see the individual pieces of each friend’s output that actually pertain to topics I care about?

Though focused browsing of friends’s feeds would mean I’d miss some serendipitous collisions with random ideas, I’d save hours and countless brain cells by not trying to imbibe barrels of drivel. (Hours that could be channeled to more efficiently serendipitous behavior like drinking coffee or beer with friends.)

So I think that topic-focused sharing is what Pullquote will focus on. I’m not sure the exact word that describes this — are we creating a social library? A social topics index? Or is this what Stowe Boyd likes to call “co-curation?” Or maybe just topic-focused sharing?

Why am I thinking this? Oh, right, #Sharknado. Early this AM I built a Storify to try to make sense (or at least some buckets) out of the #Sharknado experience. (BTW, if you don’t already know what #Sharknado was, I’m not going to explain. Here’s what #Sharknado will be: in a few weeks, the underlying event will be forgotten and #Sharknado will become the word we all use to refer to a vaporous swirl of meaningless, mass-produced meme-riffing that itself becomes so vast it collapses in on itself into a diamond-hard object of actual meaning, the perfect linguistic symbol for a socially manufactured 5k-tweet-a-minute perfect-storm of meaninglessness.)

Features in Pullquote Chrome version 0.5.6

Pullquote 0.5.6, which improve functionality for the Chrome extension and Pullquote.com, includes some small but vital tweaks to make Pullquote more intuitive. (Similar changes are the Firefox queue, awaiting Mozilla approval.)

To address readers’ concerns about redundancy, a shadow box will no longer appear if the referring tweet already includes the target text. Click on the link in this tweet to see this happen. (Actually, “not happen,” since you’ll go through to the destination page as with a normal click on any other link.)

A longer quote or a quote containing text that hasn’t been tweeted will still be shadowboxed, allowing pullquoters to continue to call out key text for celebration or derision. To give readers more context and to expose related chunks of text already quoted by the Pullquoter, topic names have been added added at the bottom of the shadowbox. A topic relating to more than one quote will be clickable. Here’s an example.

We’ve also removed comments from shadowboxes because people have not been interacting at that level. (Seems obvious, since only 1 in 1000 people leave comments anywhere online, and most links get just 5-50 clicks.) However, comments remain on the individual quote page (like this), since this is most likely to be where people interested in a particular topic will congregate and try to engage with each other.

Finally, the URL structure for member’s streams is simpler. For example, Stowe Boyd’s quote feed is now located at pullquote.com/stoweboyd.