Social Overload? Bottlenose Promises Intelligent Filtering

Startup offers high-performance app to sort and organize social streams from Twitter and Facebook.

David Carr

December 14, 2011

2 Min Read
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Are you drowning in social media feeds? Before you go down for the last time, the startup with the dolphin mascot wants to throw you a lifeline.

"The problem we're addressing is stream overload," said Nova Spivack, CEO of Bottlenose. As more people crowd into social media sites, and users accumulate connections and follow more people, "the growth of the stream is making the stream unusable," he said. "What we're seeing is that as the volume of messages goes up, it's going to far surpass the volume of attention on the planet."

When people feel overwhelmed, he said, "more is bad--when really more should be good." More raw input from streams can indeed be good, with the help of software that helps you identify and categorize the most important content, Spivack said.

Bottlenose launched its product for filtering and organizing streams as a limited-access beta this week. The invitation code "informationweek" will get the first 1,000 people who sign up with it into the program, and others can request an invitation through the website.

[ Need ideas for how your company can tweet its way to success? See 10 Smart Enterprise Users For Twitter. ]

Spivack said Bottlenose has succeeded in creating software that uses natural language processing techniques to parse Facebook and Twitter feeds and learn what content is most interesting to you. Users also can explicitly create categories of content they want to track. The Bottlenose "sonar" user interface displays the topics of posts in your stream like blips on a sonar screen, showing related concepts by their proximity to each other and importance by the size of the nodes in a web of concepts. Most of the software is written in HTML5 and JavaScript, meaning it runs in the Web browser, with the Bottlenose server used to track user account and preference information.

"That means we will be able to take this thing to a really massive scale at a very low cost," Spivack said.

This is the latest of many Internet ventures for Spivack. In 1994, he co-founded one of the first Web startups, EarthWeb; in the 1990s dot-com boom he took both that company and to initial public offerings. Recent efforts have included Radar Networks' (acquired in 2010 by Evri) and Live Matrix. He also was an early investor in Klout.

Spivack said he sees Bottlenose as a power tool, rather than one for a consumer mass market. "This is for influencers and professionals, not for Joe Consumer," he said. "This is to help you figure out where you should spend your time if you're in multiple streams."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

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About the Author(s)

David Carr

Editor, InformationWeek Healthcare and InformationWeek Government (columnist on social business)

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