Kicking Off the Next Generation of Feed Aggregators

Looks like somebody else out there is building a next-gen feed aggregator: Beta.

“Our goal is to bring you personally relevant news in an engaging, collaborative environment….we do intend to kill the dry, boring RSS reader. I’m talking about the inbox-style RSS reader that is not intriguing, not social, and makes little or no attempt at personal relevance. ” – Don

Yeah! Gives me hope. In the I’m-not-the-only-crazy-one-here kinda way.

I Still Don’t Care What Everyone Thinks

AideRSS (a feed-filtering service) is starting to pick up traction in my blogosphere.

“[AideRSS] analyzes the activity around each item in an RSS feed – Technorati hits, comments, links, traffic reports, etc. – and calculates a score for the item. It then creates four feeds from the original feed, each set to a higher activity threshold.” – Matt Thompson

Centralized metrics are a great idea from the publishers perspective – potentially more comprehensive than both Technorati and FeedBurner. Now, do you see the problem from the reader’s perspective?
To paraphrase Tony Hung at Deep Jive Interests – just because something is internet popular, doesn’t means it’s personally relevant.

A year ago I wrote:

“[T]here isn’t an easy way to glean the conversations, emerging and otherwise, within the comparatively small group of people I trust.”

It’s still needed.

Why Browser-based Feed Readers are Free

“I +love+ the new Google Reader app on Facebook. Interesting that most people only have around five to 10 feeds.” – Robert Scoble

I now understand why start pages (NetVibes, PageFlakes, iGoogle) have traction. A volume that low has a lot of flexibility in presentation – and comparatively light on server resources. Things get interesting once feed quantities hit triple digits – it stops being live bookmarking and more like email.

I’m Demoing The FeedSeeder Project @ MinneBar 07

If you’re on the fence about attending MinneBar, I’ll be demoing the FeedSeeder Project. Maybe that’ll tilt you either way.

I’ve got a stack of index cards listing features that should be implemented by then. 16 features, 16 days. Tick tock.

Update 11 Apr 2007:
I’ll also be leading a session on ‘Designing for Use’. Bring your UI design problems and we’ll work through them, getting them to a place that’ll make people smile.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 2:35:10 PM

Trawlr. Another browser-based, Rails-built, RSS reader thingy. As I await my opml import (tick….tock…tick…tock), I’m not impressed. Confirming there’s lots of work to do in RSS land. Yes, I’ve got horse in the race….but only ’cause I haven’t found another horse worth betting on. 😉

Monday, March 26, 2007 2:49:38 PM

It’s a beautiful day. Blue skies. The Dashboard widget says 77°F. Our home weather station says 80°F. That aggregation project I’ve been working on since last fall is coming along nicely. Some big, pleasant surprises this morning. Still miles to go, but it’s fulfilling the vision – even at this early stage. Yes, it’s still my only aggregator. The hardest thing about making the switch – breaking the habit of launching NNW.

This Close to Unsubscribe All

“You might wonder why you subscribe to all of this information with no immediate context.” – Aaron Mentele

The whole reason for the Feedseeder Project is that current feed readers aren’t cutting it and I don’t see them set up to change. I’ve talked about this is a number of posts. In fact, I actually think the models behind NetNewsWire, NewsFire, Google Reader, (not to mention much less useful readers like PageFlakes, My Yahoo, and Google Homepage) are stagnant. And, as much as I of a Dave Winer fanboy as I am – the OPML and Userland Radio haven’t clicked with me either.

I’m actually thiiiiis close to ignoring the entire current crop of feed readers. Yes, I’m threatening to uninstall NetNewsWire, just so I can focus on a more appropriate model without being sucked into the current email-based models. As a colleague pointed out this afternoon, it’s even worse than email – at least in email, it’s easy to forward items. For me, feed reading, like podcasts are rarely about immediacy – much more about long term. Constantly gather everything I’m interested in….and make it easy to find relevant things over the long term. Something between the River of News and Google models. (It’s not a far jump to connect this thinking with my interest in hyperlocal journalism).

“Adding someone to your feed list is a relatively big decision.” – Chris Saad

I disagree with Chris here. Adding someone to my feed list is a very small decision. The actual question I ask is: ‘does this writer have the potential to provide me with something interesting?’

Since most of the new feeds I add are referrers from the people I already read, the answer is almost always: Yes.


“Now imagine walking into your local grocery store, and you notice all of the traditional taxonomies have been removed because product classifications are a form of metadata. The aisle signage has been removed.” – Chris Saad

Based on my customer research experience – this is how people shop. Signs are only read when there’s a problem with the organization of the products.

Over the weekend, I left NetNewsWire.

Pipes v. Seeds

I’ve been asked if Yahoo Pipes is like FeedSeeder.

Sorta. Both merge multiple feeds and allow a level of filtering on the results within a browser-based interface. Though, that description includes quite a few other projects as well. So, I thought a Q&A would be a better way to compare and contrast [P]ipes and [F]eedSeeder.

Does it create really cool diagrams?
P: Yes
F: No

Is it useful to Garrick?
P: No
F: Yes

Is it free?
P: Yes
F: No

Is it live?
P: Yes
F: No

Postponed Due to Lack of Vision

I’ve been fighting with one aspect of FeedSeeder for quite a while now. None of the approaches I’ve taken ended up solving the problem in a useful way – many of them just mucked it up worse. The imaginary screen in my head that tells me ‘what it should be’ was blank and it was sucking up all the energy.

So yesterday, I dropped the feature. For now.

Removing it made everything else fall into place much easier. The imaginary screen flickered back on.

The need for this feature will still be there and I’m pretty sure it’ll sort itself out quite nicely when the time is right.

Oh, so this new approach is called ‘procrascipline’.