Sunday, June 20, 2004

Too Many Blogs

[Blogging] There is simply too much information out there. Too many blogs to keep track of. I had been using Sharpreader as my news aggregator. I'd added about 1400 feeds. If I refresh every single feed, it takes about 30-60 mins and during that time, the program is completely unusable and consumes too much resources. Instead of being able to use the "aggregate" function, I was limited to refreshing sections or single feeds at a time, thus reducing it to nothing more than a bookmark manager.

I've decided to go with a different solution. Since that is how I've been reading the feeds, I'm using the RSS Reader Panel extension for Mozilla Firefox instead. It doesn't aggregate but you can read the feeds one at a time. It's fast and uses Firefox, my browser of choice. It also allows me to open multiple posts in new tabs in the background. This method so far feels more natural and compatible with my reading behavior.

Sharpreader will be reserved for the following:
- feeds that I want to automatically track and be notified of when additions are made
- New York Times feeds so article links can be archived for a longer period of time
- feeds for the very best blogs which I read on a daily basis

Now, since it doesn't aggregate, why use the Firefox RSS Reader Panel? Why not just visit the actual sites? Speed. RSS feeds are cruft free. Content only. Feeds load much faster than the entire website. If it's good, I can still visit the actual site but to skim, the feeds are good enough. If I am looking for information on a particular topic, I can use the integrated Feedster search bar.

For aggregation, I am considering using a web-based service. Haven't decided which one yet but I'm sure there are lots of good options out there.

Ways to improve the Firefox RSS reader panel:
- feed autodiscovery if a link is dragged onto the panel
- single click opens the feed, double click opens the actual website
- display post date, time and author
- a button/keyboard shortcut to open next feed on list (this feature would be useful for the bookmark manager in general)
- show feed URL in address bar
- ability to search for feeds by name
- auto detect duplicate feeds