Gray Flannel Dwarf


Back in Syndication

So, here I am, several years after the weblog thing took over the intertubes, once again trying to get into the whole RSS/Atom feed thing. Maybe all of you folks over there on the right side of my weblog will start getting visits and comments again. It’s not that I’m avoiding you, it’s that I actually just never look at that thing.

When I first took a look at syndication, I started using Sage back in 2005 to try and get a handle on things, but somewhere along the line, windows were closed, browsers were upgraded, systems were rebuilt, and Sage kind of fell by the wayside. In any case, Sage is what I am going back to for now, mostly because it is familiar, however it just feels kind of “bleh”, and I can’t put my finger on it. I think part of it is my whole experience with syndication.

To me, syndication has always been so two-dimensional. I think that covers it well. You end up with this long list of things that you may or may not read. And then there’s the taxonomy. How do you organise them? Yes, I can regionalise or alphabetise them, put them in some sort of Trivial Pursuit-esque categories, or put the ones I most often frequent near the top, but none of those always fit the bill 100% of the time.. For example, what if I wanted to, hypothetically, track an RSS feed from a local newspaper about the NFL, something which has my avid interest for some, but not all, of the year. How do I categorize that?

Now, Sage pilfers some namespace in my Firefox bookmark, and has a functional similarity, so maybe that’s a big part of the influence in my thinking. But really, it gets to a second part of the way i mentally parse current syndication methods out there on the web — I can’t figure out the best way they should be handled by the end user. A standalone application seems way too heavy. This Sage bar i have over on the left-hand side of my browser sure takes up a lot of real estate… and then while there are plugins for mail applications to handle feeds, that just doesn’t feel right for me either.

I think the perfect RSS/ATOM feed tool for me would:

  • Allow tagging of the feeds themselves and generate some sort of tag cloud that I could click on, with dynamically-sized tags based on the number of feeds in each
  • Pop up, something like Mugshot when a feedscan is completed, and have a built-in “decay” that would remove older feed content from the pop-up view, (but save it in another more static/traditional view)
  • For the most part otherwise stay out of my way, hidden in a systray icon or something, until/unless i wanted to see it. Maybe the icon could change colour if there was new content, but that wouldn’t be a priority.
  • Highlight misbehaving feeds in the listview (which is also usually hidden) to quickly identify those that are not responding, or 404-compliant, etc.
  • ….

Not sure what else offhand, but I will try and keep this list updated. Maybe something like this exists — does there exist an rss feed which features self-tagging of the feeds themselves (versus something like Technorati tags)? That’s kind of hard to look up on Google, but I wasn’t able to find much.

Tags: , , , , , , , — cswiii @ 11:37 am