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Things I wish were easier to do with RSS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I’m having a rough day with RSS feeds today, but there’s SO much potential there still. We should all give thanks every day to Dave Winer and the other geeks who helped build RSS into what it is today. I just wish I could do more with it. I met with one of the biggest tech companies in the world last week and they too said they live on RSS feeds and love them. These are the things that I’m crying about today and have found myself upset about again and again.

  • Programatically look at a list of hundreds of webpage URLs and determine what their RSS feed URLs are. All the methods we’ve tried break or miss feeds.
  • Send a feed to a feed publishing service like Feedburner and have it cache non-live items in the feed it publishes.
  • Build spaghetti-ball messes of ornate processes with lots of RSS feeds without the apps using them timing out.

Anybody know good, scalable solutions to any of these problems?

  • I only just caught this post because I’m about 30 days behind in my Google Reader subscriptions (that alone speaks volumes); but I think this is entirely feasible if you can accept the following paradigms:

    Sites must use the standards-compliant link tag to point to their RSS feed if they wish to make it available.
    Feedburner is unacceptably crufty, and a far leaner middleware solution can be easily developed.
    Using a newer non-blocking web technology to build a feed processor would be needed.

    I know it can be done, but to what end? Who would the audience be?

  • Bernard ben Tremblay

    Recall Kevin Burton’s TailRank.com ? Oh my, I sure did have fun with that.

    What comes to mind in this area is his project: http://spinn3r.com/

  • Bernard ben Tremblay

    p.s. as my satisfaction with RSS drooped to near zero, I settled on NetVibes. Now when I boot I get FF, of course. And T’bird too. And then Chrome for GMail and GPLus. But also Safari, loading my huge set of RSS tabs and panes. It’s what I ended up with. FWIW a very crude public page: http://www.netvibes.com/bentrem

    BTW I put in quite a bit of time with Yahoo!Pipes … that was good fun but in the end it didn’t amount to much.

  • Marshall,

    I’m dying for a solution and no one is building what I want or how dealing with websites works in my head.

    RSS is a bucket and we drop in what we want – but that’s not the right way to do it. The right way involves constraints. So I’ve started building a solution that I want.

    I don’t want to talk about it too publicly but I’d love to get your thoughts on it. Drop me an email at zack@zackshapiro.com and we can chat!

  • Marshall, I’m curious if you’ve heard of any startups which will duplicate the postrank features. I was loving it back when PostRank was AideRSS. It was a way to filter out the noise from my google reader. It had minor changes as time went by but it didn’t improve much. It seems no one has come up with an alternative/competitive solution. Alltop and other curation sites like it are great for finding the topics I care about but what new tools are there to filter those feeds to show only the ones which are shared, commented on or liked the most. I know that RSS has its limitations and there was hope a few years ago for better solutions like Activity Streams. I’ve built my own filters using Postrank, Alltop and Yahoo Pipes but now that Postrank is fading away it’s difficult to find an alternative.

  • I also truly lament PostRank’s closing. My approach has been to divide feeds into critical folders which I will attempt to forage, and tags (i.e. folders) which I will treat as custom search engines with no intent to process. I am also using feedafever.com for popularity rank.

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