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Wednesday, May 25, 2005


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It's cool - but it has something of Safari RSS, admit it ;-)

I admit it :)

I've tried to follow your lead on the whole "you don't have to read every item - RSS isn't email!" thing, but I'm failing. I only have one Channel Group, with about 30 sources in it, and I read each one. Madness. One thing I'd like (maybe it's already possible) is to have an option to update *all* Channel Groups periodically (say once an hour), and, optionally, show a Newspaper style for *all* feeds in *all* groups. This would be handy to have when you only have a few new items in each channel group, instead of hopping to and fro...

great -- looking forward to 1.51! thanks for the update.

I remember Radio's aggregator doing this. One thing I don't get though, why is the river segmented by feed? It's more like watching barges go down the river. Seems like a simple time-based sort would be more the desired effect.

Nice to see you here, Gordon :) You can group by date rather than channel, which does what you're suggesting. In my case, though, I like grouping by channel since it sets the context for what I'm reading.

I'm with you on the grouping Nick. Having all feeds from all groups combined makes no sense. I don't want to read a CNN story, then a Slashdot story, then a Dave Barry story, then a Motley Fool story. That would be way to confusing and hectic.

I think Dave Winer's idea is crazy. Who would want to read a newspaper with page after page of jumbled stories? The paper is organized into sections for a reason. You could take this to it's logical extreme and say each story should be a jumble of sentences and each sentence should be a jumble of words and each word should be a jumble of letters. Why have any organization to anything?

This sounds like an idea that he is only advocating because it can be easily done, not because it is more helpful to the user.

I prefer the "river of news" approach too. It's much more scannable. It took me a while to figure out how to do it with NewsGator for Outlook (which is happily now a sister product of FeedDemon) - see http://www.askderekscruggs.com/river-of-news-in-newsgator.html

I agree with Will on that one. It would be nice to be able to schedule update all channel groups (and if you're concerned about bandwidth perhaps just restrict it to the synch'd channel groups) and have a newspaper for that too.

I often forget to switch around my channel groups so when I do I'm suddenly bombarded with new items and I just *must* read each one!

Could you please also add a feature for flagging item right in the newspaper (similar to Copy to news bin)?

I am very much interested in the new feature that will enable "newspapers" to communicate with FeedDemon itself (BTW, "Surfer" looks great!). This is probably the feature that I miss the most (along with Alex): it would be great if I could flag an item or set it as "read" right in the newspaper view. Now I always have to go back to the list of entries, look up the corresponding post (which can be very frustrating when having a large number of entries), flag or set it as "read", then press the Back button above the browser to get back to the "newspaper" view. So this would be really a great new feature for me.

Unfortunately, due to the way I designed FeedDemon, it isn't possible to flag items from the newspaper. However, I am planning on doing this for FeedDemon 2.0.

In the meantime, though, keep in mind that you can drag-and-drop hyperlinks from the newspaper into a news bin, which is what I do as a replacement for flagging items.

Peter, I don't want to misrepresent Dave W.'s implementation, Nick is actually following Dave's implementation (grouped by feed).
As far as the usefulness of what I proposed, the question is, what do you mean by context? Nick (and Dave) set the channel as context, to me, time might be the more important context. Actually, to achieve a real newspaper structure, TOPIC is the most important context, but we aren't very good at automatically deriving topic from content yet, so we use other heuristics to approximate the effect we want.

Nick I hope you do give River of News a try. And to the people who think I advocate it because it was easy, well, geez, how do you know? Can you read minds? (Sorry, but sometimes people say the weirdest things.)

If you decide to go for it, let me be a beta for you, I'll help you tweak it up.

BTW, the reason it's good is because I'm reading my feeds a dozen times a day. Why hunt and peck to find the new stuff when the computer can do the finding for me? Isn't that why we use computers, to automate tedium? That's why I use them.

Newspapers are different from feeds. They come out once a day. Everything is new every time you look at it. They don't sneak in new articles during the day. So you don't need River of News when reading on paper. But reading on a computer is different.

BTW, I wrote outliners in the 80s and 90s, so I very much appreciate the drill-down method. I also wrote a BBS in the 80s, and we had the drill-down method of reading discussions, but soon realized we needed what I now call River of News. The newbies always read the tree, until they weren't newbies and went looking for a more efficient method and found it. That's the way you may want to organize the user interface.

I remember well one day Andrew Grumet, one of the regulars at our discussion group at Harvard, came in saying he had invented a new way of reading news with his aggregator, he would have it only show him the new stuff every time he looked. I groaned and told him that's how my.userland.com worked, in 1999!

Someday someone like Nick will re-invent this and make it popular and take have the market coalesce behind him. I tried to sell the Microsoft guys on it, but they keep "improving" it, and getting rid of the simplicity and losing the river-ness of it. It's time to shoot all the programmers, I tell you! ;->

Except Nick (and me) of course...

I like this style too, it is kind of how I do it now. I have my RSS reader dump everything into a bin ordered by timestamp and filter out already read items. Then I just go through the list. Unfortunately my reader doesn't (as far as I am aware, and I haven't spent much time checking) let me see the first line or two without selecting the headline.

I'm getting more and more impressed with what I see and hear about FeedDemon though, think I might try it out.

Good job


Newbie to RSS I am using bloglines and like it alot.

I check new feeds from my sources every hour, but if I am interested in somthing like RSS topic or Podcasting it would be nice to see tags. like flickr where you can get articles from all sources that have been taged with key word RSS. Maybe can be programmed to tag all headlines.

As of the "read panel - feeddemon integration": I will be happy to pay the version 2.0 upgrade fee just because of this new feature. :)

The biggest productivity boost came from realizing, with Dave's help, that I didn't have to manage every news item.

Radio has these checkboxes next to each item and I guess I thought that because they were there, I was supposed to use them.

But over the last two years I've found this "letting go" strategy to be super-efficient 99% of the time.

I occasionally miss stuff in feeds that don't update as often as the others, or on stories that don't appear redundantly in a few different places over time. It'd be nice to see an aggregator adopt a design that helped me earmark certain feeds or keywords as "worth hanging on to a bit longer", while letting the vast majority of new flow past, riverlike.

Here's a fun name for that last feature suggestion, that extends the aquatic metaphor: yazoo stream. It isn't a perfect analogy because the earmarked items should still flow through the main reader as well. We can copy bits but not water.

Oh, and it's perfectly possible that somebody else was doing this years ago, I have no idea. Doesn't matter, as long as we get better aggregators :)

I use the River of New approach in my aggregator and I love it. It allow me to see so much stuff as it goes by, and quickly focus on the things that I care about while ditching the rest.

I find the River method inferior for the resaon Nick points out, a BoingBoing post requires different mental context than a New York Times post. My mind is far more efficient at scanning posts when it does so in a grouped fashion.

I have always used MyYahoo as my aggregator, until I recently got a Mac. I set up all of my feeds in Safari under different topics. I can filter in all kinds of ways. It took me a long time to get it nice and organized. After two days of this method of topic based context. I realize that it is way too overwhelming, and not nearly as easy to consume as myYahoo. Why? myYahoo is time sensitive, and one Newspaper style "River of News". Safari RSS is just an OCEAN! I spend all my time looking for news and no time actually consuming information. You can aggregate a lot of information, in a lot of interesting ways, contexts, categories, hierarchies . But you can only consume meaningful timely information in an "alert" fashion, which is "River of news" I presume.

I think you're right in your approach to FeedDemon, let the user decide, and help them as much as possible (your summaries sound a good idea).

I'd like to be able to usefully monitor several thousand feeds. Neither per-feed browsing or the flat River of News approach are any good once you get past a couple of hundred. Can't read them all, don't want to skip arbitrarily. Categorised River of News is a start, but current approaches to categorization are very crude. (I'm working on it...)
Things haven't really improved very much since 1999.

Nick - this is the ONLY thing FeedDemon has been lacking, IMO. The "River Of News" was what I loved about Radio Userland. Stop teasing and get this sucker released, willya?

Yes, this is the way I use FeedDemon. I look at feeds using the "group newspaper" option -- which creates a "River of News" page that I can easily scan, recheck as often as I want.

It seems to me that stuff like XSLT can be used to do all kinds of interesting stuff, like display the items by time rather than by feed.

Or, my favorite, show me all the items that are pointing to the same NYTimes article/blog post.

One thing I like about FeedDemon is that by creating groups of feeds I can create more than one River of News in my landscape. Right now I have River of Politics News, River of Daily Blogosphere, River of Medlogs, River of News Items on Gizmos that Make My Visa Card Itch. All that's needed is organizing them by timestamp rather than by author, and we're there.

I would love for my aggregator to start using what it knows about my feeds to create what you might call "emergent" information. Example: which feeds have the highest posting volume? Create something like a referrer log that shows me a giant list of links from all the RSS items, presented as an RSS feed that I can subscribe to.

Oh, and make it easy for me to find a list of all feeds that haven't been updated in a month so I can either unsub from a dead blog or do some research on where the feed has moved to.

Have I mentioned I love FeedDemon?

I subscribe to 964 feeds. (I didn't notice the "Welcome to Scoble Country" sign as I blew by it at a high rate of speed). Between me and my husband, we have 3 paid-up licenses for FD.

Oh, and just one thing: I know you're with Newsgator now, but I beg you, never, ever, ever make me look at Outlook.

I have been using the River of News as much as possible using the Expando2 style and the Newspaper features. Looking at what comes next in FD 1.51 looks even better.

Kudos to Dave for propounding this, and kudos to Nick for implementing it.

As I have said elsewhere, I cannot wait to get my grubby little hands on FD 1.51.

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