Blink Microscope is a sophisticated filtering tool for monitoring the Internet for interesting things. It allows you to scour a huge number of RSS feeds all at once and filter them any way you wish. Think of it as Google Alerts for power users, and on steroids.
Anything that has an RSS-style feed can be monitored and filtered for interestingness. RSS—a base infrastructure of the open web—is extremely powerful, providing the means to examine changing websites, blogs, Twitter feeds, newsletters, Reddit content, and even Google Alerts. Once you start looking for it, it’s everywhere.
Let Blink Microscope help you find the adjacent possible.
Blink Microscope is designed to be very simple. There are two panels, once you sign in:
The top one, Filters, is your personal list of filtering rules for all of your feeds. The syntax for these filters is very broad, encompassing Boolean terms, parentheses, tags for urls, and more. For example, want to only see results that contain the phrase "This is crazy" or "Whoa"? Simply add
"This is crazy" OR Whoa to the filters panel. Or only want to see things by a specific author? Enter
author:"Thomas Pynchon" into the filters panel. See below for a bit more on search syntax.
The bottom one, Feeds, is your personal list of RSS feeds that Blink Microscope searches. For example, want to follow this Reddit forum on futurology? Enter
https://www.reddit.com/r/Futurology/.rss into the feed panel.
Finally, there is a row at the bottom for your email (where your filtered results will be sent) and for setting the timing of these daily emails (Eastern time zone). The first time you use Blink Microscope, the email can include anything that meets your filtering criteria, but every time after that, emails will only be sent for anything new that meets these criteria (so you might receive an email every now and then).
And that’s it!
Blink Microscope is very much an “artisanal SaaS” product. Its simple periodic emails are designed to empower you to do the things you like best—discover a specific set of interestingness on the Internet—and not get involved in services or platforms that act as overwhelming time-sucks. For more on this kind of thinking, you might wish to check out the guidelines of the Center of Humane Technology.
The search syntax is straightforward and very powerful. It operates like a fairly traditional search engine, where you can use Boolean terms (
NOT), parentheses, as well as tags (
title) to limit your search.
For example, if you want to limits your search to the RSS feed of foobar.org, you can do this:
url:foobar.org (weird OR strange OR "very odd")
Blink Microscope's search backend is powered by Whoosh and you can read more here about its syntax.
Blink Microscope is made by me, Sam Arbesman. By day, I’m Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm, where I spend a lot of my time surveying the ever-changing landscape of science and technology and trying to find the most interesting frontiers to explore. I’m also a writer, most recently the author of Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension. I built Blink Microscope because I really wanted this tool to exist and to use it for myself.
The blink microscope, also known as a blink comparator, was the instrument used to discover Pluto, which works by allowing the user to find tiny changes in photographs of the night sky. In the same way, Blink Microscope helps you find the new and interesting and rare in a sea of complex and messy information. Though if you discover anything along the lines of Pluto, please let me know.
I would love to hear from you! If you want to reach out, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org