The world according to Sven-S. Porst
« Tagesschau •
• Rendezvous »
With RSS feeds popping up everywhere, I start observing my habits in using them in NetNewsWire. There are some obvious likes and dislikes for me.
- Dislike: Feeds only giving their headlines, such as the Tagesschau feed I just mentioned, or most other news feeds.
- Like: Feeds containing the full text or at least a reasonably long excerpt or abstract, enabling me to make an informed decision on whether or not I want to read the whole item. This is particularly useful for long entries. See John Gruber's feed for a good example.
- Dislike: Feeds containing many little items. This is quite close to my first dislike. These feeds clutter up my aggregator with each item giving very little extra information besides its headline. An example for this is Dave Winer's feed: many, frequent posts with mostly little text. I am always about to unsubscribe from that feed. It seems to me that going from one item to the next in the aggregator's list takes a little time for the 'context-switch' to adjust to the new feed you're reading and adjust the background that goes with the person writing. Having many little items scattered throughout the day is more work than having one largeish post. Hence:
- Like: Feeds grouping several small entries together. This can make them a bit harder to reference, but mostly you tend to reference only the more elaborated pieces anyway. This grouping of mini-posts keeps the aggregator uncluttered and gives me more content for one entry in the aggregator. I think this can be used in many cases where the 'real-time' aspect doesn't play a big role – which in my opinion it rarely does. The idea of grouping things is frequently found in Matthew Thomas' blog and feed. I tried doing it last weekend but I find it hard to come up with meaningful headlines for it.
- Dislike: Having entries that don't give their own permalink as their own URL but some other URL of a page they're writing about. This makes it really hard to refer to those posts as they can't be opened by double-clicking the entry in NetNewsWire. Dave Winer does this frequently or Bill Bumgarner or Nicholas Riley, so it's quite common.
- Like: Go figure...
- Dislike: It's hard to unsubscribe from feeds. And by that I don't mean the technical aspect of unsubscribing.
- Like: It's easy to subscribe to new feeds.
This much about the RSS feeds. While making this up, I also struggled a bit with NetNewsWire. While I said
that I was no less than impressed with the program's aggregator, that assessment may have been premature. Things I observed on slightly 'harder' useage:
- Yes you can hide the left pane containing the feeds you subscribe. I consider the 'three pane' paradigm seen in so many applications these days rubbish and it makes me feel bad. It seemed ok for NetNewsWire at first, but only until I saw how much less screen space it takes with the left pane hidden. The bad news: It won't remember that you don't want to see that pane after you quit the program.
- While it is nice for getting started on news feeds, the bookmarks feature of NetNewsWire is a sick joke. After subscribing the the Tagesschau feed earlier today, I quickly realised that I find it annoying because there are too many posts on there. Still I wanted to keep it for later reference or recommendation. As you can't simply de-activate a subscription, I thought putting it to the bookmarks would be a good idea... that didn't work (cheers for Stickies once more).
- I thought I had another point, but I forgot.
April 8, 2003, 2:28
Well said. I tossed a link up to this from the Feedster / Fuzzy blog and recommended that if you’re writing an aggregator then you really should read this. Thanks.
April 9, 2003, 3:02
I just wrote down my own preferences for reading feeds and didn’t intend to generate a set of ‘rules’. What I wrote isn’t based on any ‘research’ other than observing my own habits.
On the other hand, I am of course delighted if people find these remarks useful. Also, it may increase my chance to see more feeds/aggregators I like in the future. Cheers.
April 9, 2003, 11:24