Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Monday, 8 October 2007

FeedHub: HAL, er MAPE, Filters Your Feeds

Graeme pointed me to FeedHub – another next generation feed filtering service. On first glance, it reads like FeedRinse – import a bunch of feeds, apply some filters, drop the resulting aggregated feed into your regular reader. The difference, FeedRinse’s filters are manual and FeedHub’s are automated.

My first hiccup with the FeedHub service: Registration.
Right on the top of their main page is a sign-in form with an OpenID link. I click it, authenticate, and enter my OpenID url and receive an error.

Huh? I guess they don’t automatically create my account – even though they have everything they need from my authentication to do so. Hmmm.

Back to the main page to cick the big ‘Register’ button – then another OpenID link. And a button to upload my OPML. Three attempts later, the OPML file stuck. Then they asked me questions about how much of the items I wanted, I chose “the most interesting stuff” (how do they know?) which seemed far more useful than “60% of the items”.

I then loaded up the feed url they gave me and was reminded:

“While you can normally expect to see new content in your feed every 3-4 hours, it will currently take 24 hours to start getting content in your new feed.”

While I wait for the propreitary, trademarked mPower Adaptive Personalization Engine to do it’s magic, I caught up on some early reviews of the service:

“One problem: for me it doesn’t work. It doesn’t pick the stuff I’d really like to read from my feeds. Almost none of the items match my link blog, for instance.” – Robert Scoble

Confirming what I’ve said before – I’m not confident with computers identifying what’s relevant or interesting to me. Spam is easier – there are patterns. I’m not convinced interestingness does.

My lone FeedHub feed updated and it pleasantly surprised me. At the top of each item in the reader is a FeedHub control bar with a number of links including one I’ve only seen in one other service – 'don't show items like this'. Yeah for FeedHub. I’m less enthusiastic about the meme-organizer it feels more like a distraction and oddly disconnected from the reading process.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

FriendFeed.com – Just Aggregating Your Friends’ Feeds?

“…if you’re brilliant enough to create Google Maps, Gmail, et. al, move on to inventing a flying car or something.” – Rex Hammock

A while back, when I was regularly publishing to multiple sites, I had a thing I called the gFeed that pulled all those feeds (probably a half dozen at my peak) into a single feed.

Sure some people subscribed to it (I believe some still are) but straight aggregation isn’t actually that useful1 – and if you’re crazy enough to want all my feeds, your crazy enough to know how to get them yourself. Soon, FriendFeed will start offering to do the same for you or me, or us.

The value isn’t in the aggregation, it’s in what happens after ther aggregation.

While my exposure to FriendFeed, Streamy, and FeedEachOther is very limited at this point, they all feel too “social network” heavy at this point. Unfortunately, that’s not the biggest missing piece in today’s aggregators.

1. I’ve stopped promoting the gFeed because it’s easier for both of us if I publish more in fewer places.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

FeadEachOther.com = Facebook + Bloglines

Ben just pointed me to FeedEachOther.com another entry in the social feed space.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to know which feeds your friends subscribe to? Shouldn’t you be able to find new feeds by topic? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could browse feeds related to your subscriptions? Shouldn’t you be able to share things that you find in your reader without clogging up your friend’s email? How great would it be if your reader could automatically point you towards other interesting, like-minded people?”

Also, reading comments inline is nice.

As you can tell from the above intro from founder, Udi, this is the closest I’ve seen to the project I’m working on 1, so I’m real happy to see forward progress made elsewhere in feed land.

Marshall Kirkpatrick’s Analysis:

“The only shortcomings I’ve seen so far are the absence of offline and mobile modes, weaker analytics than Google Reader offers and a limit of 500 feeds by OPML import. Those problems are big enough that I’m not likely to use FeedEachOther.”

Those aren’t showstoppers for me – and hey, this is day 1. I just don’t think FeedEachOther is intended me, Marshall, or anyone with a serious feed problem. Walking through the intro screencasts it definitely feels like a Facebook + Bloglines (or Google Reader + Orkut if you believe the rumors), with corresponding RSS Feed 101 language and tone.

I do have 1,223,948,234,981 invites remaining, so you can expect one soon.

Based on the further comments @ ReadWriteWeb, it looks like FEO has been having some issues supporting the number of people that want to check out the service. I think that hurts everyone – the service provider and the people that want to use the site. For free services, there are only a few ways to minimize the bad experience. Unfortunately, throwing up a 500 is probably the easiest way to do it.

1. While my perspective may be skewed – 10 minutes from now feeds will be ubiquitious and we need more and better tools than we have today to help us stop drinking from the firehose. That’s just one reporters opinion.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Innovation in Feed Aggregation = Search?

“So what do I say when people want me to switch my reader away from Google Reader? I answer ‘it’s too late.'” – Robert Scoble


Anyway, in the comments, there’s a pointer to fav.or.it. Like streamy and aiderss it’s another attempt to make a new kind of aggregator. From the screencast, it seems more in the realm of techmeme (5000 channels and nothings on) rather than newgator/bloglines (just the channels I want).

The most interesting innovation in feed aggregation can’t be Google adding search. There’s got to be something else. Please let there be something else.

Then again, I’ve been building2 and haven’t been paying super close attention.

1. On a personal note: This comment makes me smile. It’s a fine line between promoting the next hottest app and proclaiming lock-in.

2. I’m planning to go more public with it at this month’s ruby.mn meeting. So, shhhh if you’ve already seen it, thanks.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Re-Tweeting FeedSeeder

If you’ve been reading my twitterings over the past week or so, then you’re already read this stuff. I’m posting it here to include it in the FeedSeeder category archive fer later.

“…there are only very few instances where unsub’ing from a feed makes sense.”

“@swirlspice – exactly. the real issue is how always find the relevant/intersting things in feeds that don’t always have them.”

“no, ‘reading’ is not a gesture of any value, nor is ‘opening’. At best, it’s a comment on the effectiveness of the headline copy.”

“this new feed thingy is working out pretty well for me. While not perfect, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything nor do I feel overwhelmed.”

“…is thinking about what I as a publisher want from a feed reader. The more I think about today’s feed readers, the more I shake my head.”

Me: “I don’t like lengthy sign-up forms”
Them: “It’s 6 fields”
Me: “Too long.”

Unread Bug

“Unread counts now go to 1,000, so that you can know just how far behind you are when you come back from vacation.” – Google Reader

WTF? Telling me there are a 1,000 new things in the world is a feature? Hell, where’s the count of all the people I haven’t met, all the foods I haven’t eaten, all the places I haven’t gone, all the women I haven’t slept with.

None of those numbers are valuable, useful, or relevant.

Plus, as proven by the recent addition of search, if I’ve read something – there’s a far great chance that I’ll want to find it and read it again. So if anything, there should be a ‘read’ count.

Seems so much more optimistic and encouraging.

UPDATE Oct 5, 2007:
I’m now confident that ‘read’/’unread’ – whether in email or RSS readers – promotes poor inbox management. If you can visually identify new stuff, there’s no reason to eliminate the old stuff. Want to reach Inbox Zero? Turn off your read/unread.


“In, let;s just say, Gmail, do you need a statistical breakdown of how many people you have BCC’d in the last day? Week? Month?…In Google Calendar, do you need to know the average number of appointments you have had on Tuesday afternoons, over the last year?…No, because that would be freaking stupid.” – Gabriel Cheifetz

“I give up. Select all, mark as read.” – Lou Springer

“Been neglecting my Google Reader feeding list for days. Terrified to log in.” – nathantwright

Thursday, 6 September 2007

What’s Better?

In 10 minutes, everything will have an RSS reader built into it; email clients, browsers, audio/video/image players, phones, every single website. Each application parsing and presenting feeds in a way that’s contextually appropriate.

I hope.

If you want a ‘good enough’ general purpose feed reader, use Google Reader or Bloglines, or Newsgator, or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or.

Starbucks to Caribou Coffee to Dunn Bros all have good cups of coffee. An expected level of quality for the volume they serve. Better than Folgers, but not change your life.

“[Google Reader]’s a great app, easy to use. So much so that it actually kept us from launching our own reader over a year ago, even though we were about 80% complete….Maybe it’s time to build the better reader.” – Aaron Mentele

There’s lots of definitions of ‘better’.

Any one will do, I’ve picked mine. 🙂

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

First Invite Out, 20 To Go

Over lunch today, I sent out the first invitation to the FeedSeeder project.

This is the first real test of the system and I’m anxious. Despite the edges being very rough, the functionality is in there. Finally.

Enough to: 1) talk about 2) start polishing.

Since I’ve been working on this project about 10 of you have asked for early access. Your invites will trickle out over the next couple of weeks.

I’ve got room for 10 more people in this super early stage. Drop me an email to get on the list.

If your email doesn’t make the cut… 🙂

Oh yeah, and Greg from Perfect Porridge just reminded me: if you like Google Reader or Bloglines, then this probably isn’t for you.