A Few Products I Wish Existed

This is a scratch pad of product ideas that have passed in and out of my mind that I can't seem to shake. I wish they existed, but (to my knowledge) they don't. I wish someone would build them.

A better blog distribution platform

High Level: Take some of the best ideas of rss, reeder, old-school blog aggregators, Pocket, layer on some social signals, etc. It's a distribution platform that connects readers and writers.

Why? The pendulum is swinging back from centralized closed publishing platforms (Medium) and distribution systems (social networks) to personal blogs. Unfortunately, the blog distribution ecosystem kinda died in the last ten years.

In the last decade or so, web publishing shifted its distribution model from RSS and the ecosystem that was once built around that – feed readers, aggregators, etc – to social networks, and to a lesser extent, email. Both channels have a signal to noise ratio not even worth discussing.

Everyone – individuals, indie media, and even the corporate media – is exhausted with the current state of things. Native mobile failed. Publishers are fed up with Google and Facebook. Email is a zoo. Thus, independent web publishers – personal blogs, company blogs, and even independent media – need a new distribution mechanism.

What is it? Imagine an interface kind of similar to reeder. It stores your subscriptions (RSS if it exists, something more crude if it doesn't). Just like in any feed reader, when someone you subscribe to publishes, it shows up here.

You can choose to connect your social networks to surface social signals and suggestions. Who are your Twitter friends subscribing to? Check out this article someone you engage with a lot on Twitter just shared. Additionally, the system will suggest new things to read based on your existing subscriptions.

For publishers, it's a low-cost, effective, efficient distribution channel.

For readers, it's an easy way to track and stay up to date with the sources that matter to you without getting sucked into the social media vortex.

What it isn't. It's not a fucking social network. No social graph, no engagement actions. It's a private experience. You subscribe to stuff, you can bookmark stuff.

It's also not a publishing platform, it's not Medium. It's just distribution. Content lives on the source website. There are lots of companies doing web publishing in different forms for different models. Medium has experimented with several different business models at this point. Substack is doing something like a patreon for email newsletters.

But these are publishing models. They host your words and probably provide some tools to writers/publications. The thing I want to exist is not that, and it shouldn't be burdened with building publishing tools.

It should just handle distribution: connecting readers and writers.

It should also not force the reading experience to happen on-platform. Sometimes, it's nice to put everything into a feed reader and read everything from one place. Especially if you're in an internet-challenged environment. But for other things, I want to read things where it's published. I want the design and typography the author intended. I want the images to show up the right way. A lot of that gets mangled in RSS. Such a platform should support both models.

Business Model: This would be a paid service to publishers (at a very low monthly/annual fee), thus avoiding the inevitable slippery slope of the ad model wherein you eventually throw your users under the bus, one way or another. Maybe it starts at $5/mo for tiny publishers and it scales up with your subscriber base.

Maybe at some point you charge readers for some premium services? Like if you're tracking 1000 subscriptions, maybe you should pay a few bucks a month.

A Deep Work Planner, Scheduler and Tracker

Reading Cal Newport's Deep Work transformed how I think about work. Unfortunately, the process of doing and tracking deep work feels difficult.

What it is. A high-level weekly planner that makes it easy to plan and track deep work sessions. As part of this there would probably be a deep work journal so you can keep a log of your work sessions, as laid out in the book. After each session, you reflect on the session – did you accomplish you goals? Why/why not? Each session would be attached to a task, and a task attached to an estimate, so you can get better over time.

What is isn't. It's not collaborative, for sharing or planning tasks with a team. It's just for you.

A Personal Relationship Manager

Make it easy to stay in touch with the people I care about staying in touch with. Currently my contacts live on my phone and sync to gmail contacts and somehow this is still unbelievably hard.

A better running/training app

I run a lot outdoors. It's my primary exercise and form of training. Often I want to do different kinds of training. Sometimes I want to do intervals. Sometimes I want to target a heart rate zone. A lot of the time I want to just do a few miles of free running. I want something that makes that easy to plan and track with my watch.

The killer feature with this would be to plug into Spotify and track my pacing to the songs I'm listening to while running, and then rank the songs by my run performance. Automatically create playlists based on the best performing songs. Automatically build them based on the length of my runs. There's so much potential here.

A better way to track your career and skills

I want a living CV, tied into github, that figures out what sort of things i'm working on and mines useful insights. the business model here would recruiting. but good, privacy-sensitive recruiting, that respects your inbox and time. companies and recruiters would have access to a level of data not currently available, knowing your true expertise rather than the bullet points of what you decide to put in a resumé.

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