Interview with Peter Brown of Immedi.at

0 Comments 12.21.05

I am totally in love with Peter Brown’s Immedi.at service. With one click you can monitor any RSS feed and receive an IM whenever it changes. I use this all the time. Last week I wrote about different ways that immedi.at can be used. Peter has been very nice about responding to my queries and even took the time to do the following IM interview with me this afternoon.

Marshall
 how do you describe immedi.at when you first tell people about it?

Peter
Depending on the person I am talking to, I usually say something like: It lets you see the Internet as it happens. Whenever something of interest is updated, you get a message telling you about the update.

I also often describe how we have such a static view of the internet, even though its this living breathing thing. immedi.at lets people see the internet evolve in a way

Marshall
I’m sure different people use it in many different ways – what are some of your favorite examples?

Peter
there are a bunch of people using it to get notified of when and where xbox 360′s are on sale … They get a messaging saying: XBOX 360, on sale at this store for this much RIGHT NOW

other people monitor craigslist and ebay. A lot of news stuff. some comment threads on blogs

we just added a new feature that actually lists the top ten most monitored feeds

http://immedi.at/feeds/top_ten

Marshall
cool!

Peter
click a link to add it to your list

Marshall
do you mind if I ask what sorts of things you use it for?

Peter
I use it to test if its working!

Marshall
me too, and lately it’s been great!

Peter
No, I monitor most of the RSS feeds I used to read in NewsWire or ROJO

I find that I would forget to visit the news reader or be too busy and miss stuff that I actually care about.

so for me its replaced my old readers … but I may be extreme

Marshall
was that your motivation for creating the service?

Peter
originally actually it was annoyed that i had to constantly check back with sites of interest to see what’d been happening. I found myself sometimes going back to my newsreader 10 times a day. Lacking anything that allowed that to push to me, I created immedi.at

really it was when I got into blogging. I wanted the ability to respond immediately to new stories on high traffic blogs because … i thought it would help the traffic of my own blog, which it definitely did. also, to be able to follow important comment threads.

Marshall
well I think it’s fantastic.

Peter
Thanks!

Marshall
can you tell us how it works?

Peter
it turned out to be more complicated than I originally had thought … On one end there is software that tries to detect changes in feeds by comparing the current feed with the last one every few minutes.

on the other end is software that can communicate with all the IM network protocols

the really tough part has been first inconsistent use of the Atom and RSS protocols and second strange quirks in the way all the IM networks operate

Marshall
it seems that you’ve really improved how well it works lately.  What sorts of ongoing problems remain unsolved?

Peter
Thanks. We’ve been hard at work. One thing is that some sites will modify the way a title is worded for a particular feed entry, even though its basically the same entry … we’d like to use some kind of a checksum to detect if an entry has changed ENOUGH to warrent transmission out over IM

also we want to add support for Yahoo Messenger and we’re looking into SMS and Email components as well

Marshall
any chance you’ll roll in notification of changes on sites that don’t publish feeds?

Peter
probably not. We think that the vast majority of sites worth monitoring offer feeds and those that dont — like ebay — have sites that do it for them

Marshall
what sort of business model are you envisioning?  I have a secret fantasy that immedi.at will be bought out by Feedburner.  Would something like that sound good to you?

Peter
Perhaps. We’re looking at a couple of different options, one of which is well suited to what feedburner does. namely charge content owners for extended services … or charge them to offer extended services just to their users who use immedi.at

we envision being able to earn money on both sides … charing users for extra services — perhaps sms — and charing content owners. But we’ll NEVER advertise.

Marshall
well, it certainly seems like you’re getting good reviews all over the web.  Immedi.at sure scores high on the wow factor.  

I really appreciate the time you took to discuss the problems I had with the service last month.

I’ll be excited to follow its development.  I use it all the time now myself.

Peter
thank you and cheers for the great coverage

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