I have three newsfeed readers open, subscribed to the same feeds, and each program presents each channel, and the items within, notably differently. I examined the default configuration of each application.
The traditional model is an alphabetical listing of all channels in a group. Channels with unread items are highlighted, and the number of unread items displayed. Ranchero Software’s NetNewsWire follows this model.
A modified model orders the channels by their latest item’s publish date. Graham Parks’ Shrook follows this model.
Freshly Squeezed Software’s PulpFiction displays items chronologically, without the navigation through channel listings. The item’s creator appears before the subscription.
I view these differences as a sign of personal reading habits. Some users choose a channel and then its item, others are in search of the freshest news. What does the future hold for newsfeed readers?
- Related feeds. A site has the same content available as summary or full in multiple syndication formats. Help me switch. There is a comment thread, a trackback, and a Technorati cosmos for this item. How do you tap into that information for the full discussion circle?
- Subject threads for all subscribed channels. Every post commenting on Movable Type 3 and pointing at the same location are grouped into a thread.
- Increased author importance. How do you establish your trusted news source, both by channel and by item creators within the channel? Can I subscribe to BoingBoing and only receive posts by Cory? Can I define category experts?
- Location search. This idea would be facilitated either by an extended Technorati profile or RSS namespace. Next time a major event happens, such as an earthquake in San Francisco, your source can be identified by proximity. This feature might also help determine if a user attends a conference or if they are commenting on an issue raised at the conference.
- Suggestion engine. Could utilize Alexa data in the first generation, for sites and/or authors on their own domain. People who visit Scripting.com also visit these sites.
- And of course better support for enclosures.