Twitter “Track” is back – Introducing the Particls Fountain

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

From the day we launched Particls 1.0, people have always been excited with our approach to Attention Management.  And while we certainly don’t consider it to be a failure, we always felt that being a Windows only desktop client, with some complex UI challenges, that there was something too difficult for many users to grasp.  There was effectively three paradigm shifts (Aggregate Everything, Rank against interests, Variable interruption based on relevance) and this was a too much for a lot of users to wrap their heads around – ultimately creating a ‘barrier to entry’.

We switched over to a web-based solution, cutting Particls in half.  The Attention Management Engine was removed and eventually became Engagd, and the visualization and alerting engine became what we called ‘Particls 2.0’.  We’ve been working on these two platforms for quite some time, but as the economy turned, and faced with ever increasing costs and minimal resources; we decided to find another way – to work with fine scalpels instead of axes like we once did.  A limitations of resources always forces companies to focus on what really matters – and we choose to use this economic downturn as an opportunity instead of allowing it to consume us.

In order to reduce complexity and scope, we’ve diverted all resources onto a new project we’ve been internally calling “Particls Fountain”.

Particls Fountain will eventually become what we wanted Particls 2.0 to be, but rather than building from the bottom up, we’re building it from left-to-right. Right now it is simply a replacement for the Twitter Tracking service, where you follow topics of interest you define and Particls alerts you Tweets about that topic.

Currently these alerts are delivered via XMPP or Direct Messages, but other mechanisms have been requested and are in the pipeline. Unfortunately however, Direct Messages are being limited by the Twitter API. We will be bringing new channels online to compensate. If you want to get started with Particls, simply follow the instructions at http://blog.particls.com/index.php/instructions

Aside from extremely agile development and releasing frequent, smaller updates to the service, we are also letting the community be the primary driver of development.  We’ve setup a UserVoice site where great ideas are already flowing from the community of about 100 testers.  This feedback is vital, and it’s encouraging to see these users vote for their favorite feature.  Its quite insightful, and it clearly demonstrates what we think is a cool feature, is actually not always what users want or care about.

As a developer I also find it extremely rewarding to mark a feature as “complete” and getting immediate feedback about it.  Its great and so far we’ve found that not only do we as a team produce code faster, but we also building stuff better than we did without it.

It’s still early days for Particls Fountain, but we really do want to make this a tool everyone will find useful, so please come try it out and give us your thoughts.  Be our bosses and tell us what to do to make it something you love.

Because we do.

Note: If you want to get started with Particls, simply follow the instructions at http://blog.particls.com/index.php/instructions

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