I've been working with Martin on a new version of Leapfrog, the neighborhood reader we've been building in various forms for a while. I haven't really put down any thoughts about this iteration, though, so here perhaps are some.
@markpasc is there a blog post or something describing what leapf is attempting to accomplish?
We've been looking at how to present activity streams for a while as part of TypePad and (on Martin's side) the Activity Streams format, but have found that for the purpose of reading what's new or news in your circle of interest, you really want to read the content, not just the activity. Many dashboards we've made and use are simple lists of that activity, so on top of unbolding all those inboxes, you have to dereference all those actions into interesting content yourself.
The best improvement Leapfrog makes over regular activity streams is to focus on those content objects. We use the activities in your streams to decide what content to show, so you see things you might be interested in instead of what your friends are doing. (What your friends are doing is still interesting information, I think, but not for reading-oriented aggregation.) We validated the approach with our previous “Leapreader” app for reading TypePad activity, so this version of Leapfrog applies it to other streams too.
The content-orientation part is rather heuristic, at least with low-information Twitter content. Once you've signed in with Twitter, your friends' tweets start to appear in your Leapfrog stream. The main way other content shows up is when someone you follow posts a tweet that contains one link. We've assumed that means the link is really someone sharing or replying to whatever the link is to, so we heuristically decide what that is and show the tweet as a reply.
Twitter is especially bad at content focus, so this helps a lot. Any “share” you make on Twitter is explicitly not content (the tweet is), and often uses a shortened URL, so you have to click on a blind link to find out what it is. As Martin (nearly) put it, “Sometimes a tweet is content, but often it isn't, and it's hard to tell the difference.” Leapfrog includes the assumption that you want to see the things people are sharing, so it shows you the moon instead of the finger.
(This also permits us to show you the shared items only once.)
Once we decide what the shared object is, we do our best to turn it into a post-shaped item to display inline. Since web feeds offer the highest quality post content, we try to use those first, falling back to OEmbed if it's available. If that doesn't work, we assume we can't have the full content and instead make a “link” style item out of any Open Graph Protocol or other metadata the page offers. We make a few tweaks for certain sites, such as popular photo-tweeting services, but this works pretty well. When it doesn't, we decide the finger really is the moon, and let the tweet stay a top-level content object (though we use any title we discovered as the link's text).
While this process improves Twitter the most, I also wanted to try to unify some of my dashboards. I was already using Leapreader, the previous thing that was at leapf.org, to read TypePad, but I was also using Aaron Straup Cope's Flickr for Busy People to see what my contacts were posting to Flickr. So this version of Leapfrog includes your TypePad notifications and Flickr contacts' photos too. (Content focused activity inversion should work well for Flickr favorites, but there's no API to get all your friends' favorites at once, so Leapfrog doesn't.)
@markpasc i'm going to go out on a limb and say, it's probably the best feed experience i've had in a while.
I hope maybe this explains where Leapfrog is coming from. There are still rough edges we'd like to file off, and more services I'd like to add, but it's all in the UserVoice where you (if you like Leapfrog) can add your own suggestions too.