The disconnected blog reading experience

When I work I like my experience to be as productive as possible, I may not be productive at the time but I still want the tools I use to be productive.  For me most of my time is spent working on computers and as such its the software which is my window to experience and productivity.

RSS Aggregators

What a great tool these things are, my tool of choice is FeedDemon.  Why do I choose this?  Well I suppose like many bloggers I have a lot of information which I read from about 200 or more RSS feeds and for me, right now, the products which plug into my email client just don’t provide me with the full or fast enough experience (I think they’re great for most people but don’t suit me).

The experience is broken though.  I consume information but for many posts the information is the starting pistol for a comment debate.  For example when Ed posted a response and stimulated a debate around Domino Designer the most amazing insight was from the 130 comments.  I don’t generally get much debate here as my audience is fairly modest but when reading blog articles through RSS I want to interact with the comments, I want to do it from the aggregator and I don’t want to have to rely on co-comment or other plugins.  Here would be my ideal design:

ideal_feed_reading_screen.gif

Although I have the article and comments as 2 panes I think my preference would be for one pane which scrolled to allow the comments to be viewed.  In fact I’d be happy for all the right hand 4 panes to be controlled with the same scroll bar, but I’d like the ability to post a comment or respond to float with my scrolling.

Why do I propose this method of working? Well …

  • I don’t want to keep switching between applications
  • I want to have all my blog reading in one place (comments and articles)
  • I like the idea of being able to respond instantly

I did want to link to other articles on the same theme but I haven’t been able to find useful links or references.  Surely I’m not the only person thinking along these lines?  Time to leave that aggregator, open that browser, scroll to the comment box and write a comment (really productive eh!).

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Stu,

    I wholeheartedly agree with how you describe the ideal feed reading session: if a post grabs enough of my attention to bookmark it on del.icio.us (http://del.icio.us/rssonate) or to blog about it, I usually follow these steps:

    1. I open the original post in a browser tab so that I have the full context and background information on the author’s interest categories

    2. I use a Greasemonkey script by Oguz Karadeniz to display how many people tagged a post and what keywords they use on del.icio.us.

    3. I pull in additional information from blog search engines. At the moment I am exploring Talk Digger and ResultR in addition to the traditional engines.

    This approach gives me enough information to determine whether I will publish about something. At least part of this process could be automated. I’ve submitted an idea along these lines to the people of BlogBridge (http://www.blogbridge.com) today. Let’s see if they agree this would be a good enhancement.

    I must say my feed reading experience improved considerably after I added a second monitor to my PC configuration.

    Whether a feed reader allows direct interaction with the original post probably depends on whether a full browsing session is opened inside the feed reader or not.

    I look forward to learning more from how you work.

    Like

  2. That’s a very interesting pointer to Steve’s detailed post about his two-tier feed reading workflow, Stu. I bookmarked it straight away. Thank you.

    With all the recent buzz about Google Reader being THE ideal feed reader, it’s refreshing to find there are other opinions too, especially from an apparent feed junkie such as Steve.

    I like how Steve saves groups of feed items in his browser and how he descibes the nice combination between offline and online feed reading.

    Thanks again for the inspiring recommendation.

    Like

  3. Stu, I really like the idea of expanding feed reading to include information related to what you’re currently viewing. You can defintely expect to see more along these lines in future versions of FeedDemon.

    Comments remain a problem, though, since relatively few feeds include comment API (or slash:comments) elements. This means that feed readers can only offer comment features like the ones you describe for a subset of the user’s feeds. Despite this, I do agree that better comment features would be a big improvement.

    Like

  4. Nick, thanks for your comment. I do feel all the major players should sit down and sort out common standards. Long term its the only way to interoperate in terms of aggregators and comment services. I realise that spam is a challenge and different methods are favoured for combatting it but we should be able to overcome that issue. I look forward to your new enhancements in FeedDemon.

    Like

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