Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I have been wondering for some time why Bloglines seems to be the feed aggregator of choice for many people. It is buggy, often showing old items as new, it has a primitive interface and is short on features. Despite this, it is the market leader. I think the reason for this situation is a lack of decent competition. There's Google Reader, which offers even fewer features, a silly UI and lots of bugs, as well as countless other competitors, but none stand out.

That is, apart from Reblog. I discovered it recently on Lifehacker, and whilst I failed to install the Open Source code on my server, I have managed to use its hosted service. Reblog is buggy, but it is early stage OS software, so that is to be expected. It works by splitting up your newsreading in two; skim reading, and then reading in depth. You look through all your incoming news, quickly selecting options using the keyboard to archive, follow links, or most importantly, publish. The publish option publishes the item to a users 'reblog', where it can be read in greater detail later. I can now spend much less time reading news because I don't read everything I'm not interested in. I also pick up more stories as I feel able to subscribe to more feeds as I am now more efficient. My reblog can be found here.

The 'reblog' idea has greater potential, beyond just the user's benefit. If it were possible to subscribe to feeds within Digg, with the publish option either submitting the story or a digg of the story if it had already been submitted, then an extremely powerful Web 2.0 'reblog' community could be formed.

The other direction RSS is going is on the desktop. Obviously there's Microsoft's strides forward in the area, and there seems to be a new feed aggregator released daily, all with slightly different takes. Ultimately some sort of fusion of the 'Web 2.0 approach' and the Microsoft approach (a unified system based on an 'RSS platform') will provide the best future for feeds.

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