That’s the pitch for LinkedIn’s new social news aggregator LinkedIn Today. Set up newspaper style, the program delivers “top” stories for the industries LinkedIn has associated with your professional profile. The stories are a mix of items shared by your network, your peers and “professionals” (ie, everyone else) and mostly they appear to be gleaned from Twitter.
At a glance, there appears to be a lot of options and levels of information that you can narrow down yourself with a variety of check boxes. However, a lot of what you’ll find here is just more noise and clutter. For example, some stories have a small blue banner with a number. Click this and you’ll see a list of people who shared this link on Twitter. You could use this list to find new people to follow on Twitter, so that’s helpful.
From there, you’re given a breakdown of these Twitterites by company, by industry and by location. By checking boxes, I can see how many “online media professionals” in the Los Angeles area shared the story about the LinkedIn Today launch. The answer is one but the question is, do you care? Are you more apt to be interested in people who Twitter from Los Angeles say than those from New York? The real purpose here seems to be giving B2B marketing pros an easy way of finding potential clients in their field or area. Not that that’s a bad thing, but let’s call a monkey a monkey, shall we?
My initial reaction to LinkedIn Today is that it’s creating more clutter, not less thanks to two big issues. First, the multiple boxes and columns don’t make for easy scanning. The best aggregators are straightforward lists with headlines and summaries that let you scan the contents in seconds.
Next, the sources are ridiculous. In the News and Noteworthy section I have an advertisement for CDBaby (I love them but it’s not news) and a link to what looks like a downloadable music bootleg. Very nice, LinkedIn, very professional.
Of course, that’s the main problem with pages that are curated by a computer, especially those that use popularity as a prime factor. I don’t think a graphic on how to beat the Watson Computer on Jeopardy is as interesting as the 143K people who shared the link through StumbleUpon.
Having said that, I will admit that I’m not the target user for LinkedIn. As a writer, I cross over into a variety of fields, so I’m sure the aggregator had a more difficult time pegging me than it would the head of IT for a bank. Still, I think they’ve got some work to do if they want to make this my first stop every morning.
Have you had a look at your custom LinkedIn Today news site? I’d like to hear your thoughts on how useable and relevant it is for you.