Friday, May 10, 2002

Radio wish list: Aggregator Improvements

(Apologies in advance to those of you reading who don’t have Radio installed, and don’t care to. You can skip this.)

Radio’s News Aggregator has dramatically changed my browsing habits. In many ways, it’s the aggregator that makes Radio a truly viral application: while the weblog component makes me a content producer, it’s the aggregator that makes my consumption of data much more efficient. By combining the production and consumption models so seamlessly, the folks at Userland created an application that will change the way you view web content almost overnight.

That said, it needs to be a lot better. (I know, I know: I’m asking a lot for $40. But bear with me: I think these improvements would be good for any Radio devotee.) So here’s my list of things I want the aggregator to do:

  • Sort new items by content provider, time of update, and subject. (The more sources I subscribe to, the harder it is to read in one sitting. If I get a bit behind, it’s hard to navigate easily.)

  • File items of interest without necessarily posting them to my weblog right away. (Sometimes I just want to revisit the item and don’t want to immediately decide whether to delete or post.)

  • Delete groups of items (or move to a “to be read” file) based on defined criteria at once. (This is different than manually checking each news item; I want to say “delete all posts from this source”, or “delete all news items” but keep “ weblog items”.)

  • Keep track of sources whose items I’ve posted to my own weblog, and sort those higher in my list than others. (Some sources I monitor just to stay in the loop, while others have information that is more directly germane to my interests and therefore more likely to be added to my site.)

  • Make the item list collapsible, rather than a long list of items in a table. If I could click on a “+” sign to expand a list of items (or similarly click on the “-” to collapse them), it would be far easier to scan through the items to find ones that interest me.

I’ll think of other enhancements, I’m sure. But adding these options would make the aggregator experience far better. As it is, I feel as if I’m constantly struggling to keep up with the many items on the aggregator page – and by definition, each item should be something I’m interested in. I don’t want to drown in this stuff – I want to manage it. And right now, Radio’s aggregator doesn’t give me enough control over the content.

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