Monday, November 30, 2009

Hacker News Mashups

Update: This started as a musing about three Hacker News mashups - Hacker Newspaper, Hacker Top, and Hacker Hacker News - but has turned into a list of HN mashups. The list is long and growing. The HN community makes a lot of mashups.

Mobile apps and Chrome extensions.
Helvetica restyling.
hnvue / Remix HN - framesets version.
Ajax-y Real-time version.
Hacker News Twitter Feeds with Hashtag Metadata
Dave Winer's firehose approach.
Hacker News, automagically organized.
Hacker Newsers, a way to connect with other readers of the site locally.
Hacker Slide. Hacker News with a slider, showing the leaderboard's change over time.
Hacker Follow. It's like Twitter for Hacker News.
Alternative UI. Similar goal to Hacker Newspaper, but I believe with less background in typography.
Print version.
E-mail newsletter version.
Droid app.
iPad version.
iPhone app
Hacker Polls turns polls on Hacker News into graphs.
I don't even get what this one does, but it looks cool.
SearchYC adds search to Hacker News.
HN Summary summarizes links from HN (apparently only some, not sure what the selection criteria are).
Reddit users discussing the Hacker News Headline Generator
Reddit-like Collapsible Threads for Hacker News (bookmarklet)
Ruby library for accessing HN
HN Trends, data stored and charted
I used a hack to make arbitrary domains invisible on Hacker News for a while.
Simpler Hacker News for Greasemonkey/Greasekit
HN Books, a blatant affiliate marketing play. Maybe useful though.
Personalized version with Summify (not actually a hack per se).
hnsh - Hacker News Shell
HN Toolkit provides the same functionality as well as several other features.

Update: I should mention, Hacker Newspaper actually runs on a combination of Ruby and Python, and the Python component is a cool Hacker News mashup in its own right: HNRSS.

Original Post:

In April I built a Hacker News mashup called Hacker Newspaper. I did it because I was reading Hacker News every day and wanted a superior interface. Since that time, two things have happened: one is that I read Hacker News much less than I used to, including Hacker Newspaper; the other is that I have a much clearer idea what stories do well on Hacker News.

The Hacker Newspaper interface adds a visual hierarchy, in a newspaper style, to the Hacker News feed.

It uses this visual hierarchy to emphasize the popularity of stories.

Hacker Hacker News keeps the same essentially flat information hierarchy of Hacker News, but re-sorts the headlines (and prunes them) based on a Bayesian classifier tuned to exclude TechCrunch-y stories, and emphasize stories with technical content. I planned to create something similar, but never got around to it.

Hacker Top also keeps the flat information hierarchy, but gives you a command-line interface in the style of top. It has a default refresh rate of every three minutes, which I think would wreck my productivity, and a nice little syntax for specifying alternate values.

As I said, after switching to Hacker Newspaper, I started reading Hacker News less often, and I became more aware of which stories were most popular. Very often, the few stories I cared about never made it to the top "headline" in the interface, and it just drew my attention to how much the interests of the Hacker News community differ from my own interests. Also, the much greater ease of scanning headlines on Hacker Newspaper made me realize how low on content the average "issue" of Hacker Newspaper is for me.

I'm very curious what changes I might have experienced if I had switched to Hacker Hacker News or Hacker Top instead. I don't have time to run this experiment, but I'd be interested in the results if anybody ran it. It could be there's a strong argument here for building your own tools for consuming media.