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Introducing VocZie

"VocZie is my experiment - it is a web site which allows you to read news stories and web sites and at the same time join an active discussion about the web site via Twitter. So you can not only read a news story, but also participate in a conversation about the story."

"I like that"

You talk, I talk, people talk - in fact we all do a lot of talking. Technology which helps us talk and share ideas has always been really popular, think of the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, TV, the internet, email, IM etc. Now today we have specific sites on the internet to help us talk - sites like Facebook where I can keep in touch with friends and family, Linked In, where I keep in touch with the people and companies I've worked with, and Twitter where I get to share in conversations and ideas with all kinds of people, some I've not even met.

I like talking, and I like to learn and I think that I learn more by talking to those I know and others that I don't, about the subjects and issues I see around me every day. From a discussion on grid computing I had with a work colleague today, to a discussion on the weather and the impact on farming I had with someone over lunch. In each conversation I shared my view, understood the other's and learnt a little bit. - Also, it was a lot of fun.

But when it comes to discussing a news story, article, or blog post on line our current tools are a little limiting and we're kinda stuck. I would love to have some way to start a discussion about a news story, or article I see on line, to learn and share the views of others, and to understand a little bit more about the story. It would be brilliant if I could do this both with my circle of friends, but also with others - people I don't know, but who also might be interested in the same things. You never know, this way I might even make more friends!

Some of my favorite news sites have comment areas at the end of the story where I can share my views - but for me they don't really work. I've commented on the story, but only others who search out the article and scroll to bottom will see it, and typically I need to create and manage a specific news site account, which isn't great either - I end up with a different username, so those that know me, and find the story, may not even know that I've commented on it.

A lot of sites have integrated buttons and widgets which link them to existing social media sites, for instance Facebook's like button, Google's +1, and the Twitter button.

Google's +1, and Facebook's like button both share the same problem - we, just don't talk like that. When we use the like button we let others know we like a web page, but so what? - no one knows why we like, just that we do. We've not shared an opinion, or additional fact. We've just said "Dude I like this", that is all.

Now in real life you don't walk up to your friends and say "I like 'Further flood misery expected as torrential rain forecast for sodden UK' : The Guardian World News"... What you actually say is usually something like:

"Wow, did you see the story about the rain, isn't it terrible, there has already been so much, I just wish we could have a real summer for once"

... and a real conversation is started.

Well the like and +1 buttons - they aren't great, there has to be a better way.

Some sites have added a Twitter widget which allows me to share the article on Twitter, this is great because the Twitter widget provides me with ability to enter my own comment along with the link to the story and to share it. I believe that this is better than the Google +1 and Facebook like as it allows me to tell people why I'm interested in the story, and I can better articulate my thoughts about it. For instance a headline from today is 'O2 network crash leaves mobile users without service', I don't like this event. I'm not happy that O2 users are suffering, but I may want to comment on it - "Ah this is why I haven't been able to get in touch with my sister for a while"...

The down side of sharing a site on Twitter is that if often vanishes in the Twitter-o-sphere never to been heard of again. I'm followed by a small group of people and unless one of my Twitter friends spots my tweet and replies then the conversation stops.

VocZie - the experiment

VocZie is my experiment - it combines any RSS feed with Twitter. No only can you read a news article / blog post / website, but you can see and participate in any conversations about that site via Twitter. I created this so that I could share my views, read others, and make new connections and friends.

To do this VocZie takes the web page your looking at and automatically searches Twitter for anyone who's commented on the story. VocZie then shows you what others have said along side the web page. To help you in participating in the conversation Voczie even provides you with a comment box where you can post your views on the page to Twitter. When you post to Twitter from VocZie your tweet will contain a link back to VocZie's page, so anyone who open's your link on Twitter will see not only the news story, but also the conversation you've joined.

It's not perfect, VocZie is new, and it is an early experiment at the moment, but I'd love you to check it out on line and tell me what you think. Just point your browser here (http://www.voczie.com) and long in with Twitter to give it a try,

There are new features coming to VocZie - I've a bunch of things I'd love to add (and bugs I know about, and need to fix) I've documented my ideas on the VocZie site for you to share and discuss. Check them out here.


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