Noah Brier is drinking coffee. It's cold and damp outside in Tribeca; inside the coffeehouse, it's not much better, with soggy sneakers squeaking by and rain jackets dripping wet. But Brier's espresso sipping is apropos for a different reason. The Barbarian Group veteran, founder of Brand Tags, and No. 59 on Fast Company's Most Creative People list is taking me through his new startup, Percolate, which, as Brier explains, is all about coffee.
Percolate, currently in its "double secret alpha" version, is a blogging platform that provides curated content for you to write about. The service taps into your RSS and Twitter feeds, culls content based on your interests—the stuff that "percolates up"—and then offers you the ability to share your thoughts on the subject with friends. "We're trying to make it easy for anyone to create content," Brier says, "to take away from the frustration of staring at that blank box and trying to figure out what to say."
In many ways, Percolate aims to be equal parts Tumblr, Google Reader, and Twitter. Like Tumblr, user content is divided between your own feed—called your "Filter"—and your follower feeds—called your "Brew." But instead of having to post your own content, Percolate features a steady stream of interesting content, from you and your friends, for you to comment on.
"When you look at how personal publishing has evolved, it started with blogs years ago. It turned out blogging was a lot like dieting: Everybody jumped on the bandwagon, and most people fell off. You faced this big blank box every day, and didn't know what to put in it," Brier says. "A few years ago, Twitter came along, and their big innovation was to shrink the box. It made it more acceptable to write less. All of a sudden, it was less intimidating and easier."
"When we think about what Percolate is, we think of it as a platform for publishing that takes the box away altogether," he adds. Indeed, there is no white box burning away at your monitor, with a blinking cursor begging for attention. Rather, Percolate is akin to reading your Pulse or Google Reader feeds—but having the option to comment on content and share your thoughts with friends, à la Twitter or Disqus. With each story featured, just click a tag (Interesting, Win, Awesome, Fail), and a white box will appear with the option to comment. Anything you write will be shared with your followers.
As for the content that shows up in your "Brew," Percolate uses an algorithm to curate the content, and will only show the most interesting stories—it won't simply mirror your RSS feed. "The idea is that people are more interesting than algorithms," Brier says. "The algorithm is a great way to serve up things for you to write about."
Percolate, Brier says as he downs his red eye, currently has six employees, and plans to launch for invite-only beta testing early next week. If any Fast Company readers would like to give it a try, just contact us on Twitter—we have some invites to give out to the first dozen or so who request it (UPDATE: All the invites have been snapped up—sorry!).
[Image: Flickr user Paul Evans]