Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Post-vacation Aggregator Thoughts

(How’s that for a tortured headline?) Took a nice brief vacation, got back last night. Traveling with two kids under three is always an adventure!

Much to get caught up on, and I’m again frustrated by Radio’s aggregator. (Non-Radio users can ignore this.) It took me just 20 minutes to get caught up on e-mail (more than 150 e-mails in my heavily-filtered inbox; another 250 in various folders). It took me over an hour to clear out my aggregator. Some thoughts:

  • Radio currently supports just “delete” or “save”, but each time the page draws I have to manually set the same items to save. I want to be able to save multiple items away from the aggregator “inbox” so that I don’t have to uncheck the item multiple times. (When you’ve been away for four days, you can uncheck the same item as many as ten times as you wade through the many items.)
  • I want to be able to categorize posts so that I can quickly navigate among the many sites I subscribe to. (I’m currently subscribed to 64 sites, all but five of which are weblogs.) (Note: I believe someone already built this as an add-in; I just haven’t implemented it yet.)
  • Within the page, some dynamic controls that would let me sort by date, author, etc. would be nice.
  • I would like to create filters on the aggregator much like I have filters on my inbox.

As is probably apparent to the good folks at Userland, the Aggregator really is a separate product. There’s enough depth to the need here to create a separate group focused just on its functionality. Interoperability with other blog systems (Movable Type, Blogger, etc.) would be a no-brainer – and would extend the Userland brand. It would further establish RSS as the de-facto standard for data sharing (a huge step forward, if you ask me) and cement Userland’s leadership in the area. (Jenny’s right on with this issue, by the way.)

There are all kinds of other things necessary for the aggregator for it to blend into a corporate information-sharing tool. But the portal vendors have been slow to adopt a standard – and in a bloody marketplace, the technology gets commoditized. This could be a trojan horse for a company to show up, establish dominance (not in controlling the interface layer to the data, but in controlling the aggregation) and grow far beyond its current roots. K-logging could become a massive software category.


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