Welcome to Apricot

Social media has been the de facto way to browse content for years. It’s time for something better. Enter Apricot.


Brian Kent


March 16, 2023

Hello world, welcome to the Apricot blog! Allow me to introduce Apricot and share a bit of the back story.

Social media killed the RSS star

For the past 15 years, I have been a data scientist, focused on machine learning and AI. Data science is a field that moves very quickly and it’s important but hard to stay up to date with things like new software, courses, conferences, papers, job postings, etc.

Once upon a time, I used an RSS reader to try to keep tabs on things. When Google Reader died, I—and many other data scientists—came to rely on Twitter to stay in the loop professionally.

This blog is built with Quarto, which I discovered serendipitously thanks to this tweet. Discovery of “unknown unknowns” is one of the good things social media does well.

For a time, the social media revolution worked well. The mobile-first, scroll-based UI was much simpler than dashboard-style RSS readers. People posted links to content on all sorts of platforms, not just blogs. The platforms’ ranking algorithms introduced us to things we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Personal commentary added color, trustworthiness, and a sense of connectedness. It was puppies and rainbows, for a time.

Social media is bad

You know the sad end of the story; social media evolved into a toxic dumpster fire. Now, the good stuff is drowned out by clickbait, trolls, bots, and harassment. Driven by ads-based business models, social media platforms keep users addicted and track users across the web. Plus, it’s clear now that a handful of loud influencer voices does not truly represent a vibrant community.

Social media usage is strongly associated with depression. Correlation isn’t causation, but a growing consensus says the relationship is causal. From Jonathan Haidt, citing Haidt and Twenge, who used data from Kelly, et al (2019).

Moving past social media

Apricot’s premise is that we can un-bundle social media, keep the good bits and throw out the toxic junk.

What’s the good stuff? Great question—glad you asked. Here’s what we should keep in the next evolution of media browsing:

  • The user decides what sources make up their feed.

  • Content from all sorts of web platforms.

  • The user decides: smart ranking to see the most relevant items first, OR simple chronological order.

  • Links that open in the original content platforms.

  • A mobile-first design philosophy.

On the flip side, let’s get rid of:

  • The ads-based business model that drives user addiction, mental health problems, and privacy violations.

  • Harassment from bots, trolls, and other random internet strangers. I never want to have that sickening feeling while watching an army of trolls on the attack.

Apricot in a nutshell

Apricot lets you subscribe to content from various platforms on the web: YouTube, Substack, Reddit, Spotify (podcasts), and any RSS feed. Add your favorite sources and Apricot will import all the items from those sources as they’re published, sorting them so the best stuff is at the top. Like social media, you simply scroll to see more items. No enterprise dashboards here, browsing shouldn’t feel like work. Click items to read/list/watch on the original platform. Bookmark items to save for later. That’s it—super simple!

Apricot’s personalized feed for a hypothetical user.

Where we’re heading

Today’s Apricot checks most of the boxes, but there’s a lot of room to grow. More content sources, better discovery of “unknown unknowns”, contextual item ranking, summarization of long-form content with state-of-the-art language models—everything’s on the table, as long as it stays true to our core principle of keeping control in the hands of the user.

Sign up at https://app.theapricot.io and check it out. Please don’t hesitate to send us feature requests and feedback—it’s early days, so your input will make a big difference!