UPDATE: On second thought, this isn’t what I really want. What I want is a Twitter style feed, or as Dave Winer calls it, a River of News, which predates Twitter. I don’t need a complex sync mechanism, or a read/unread count. What I really want is a central place to see my river of news with a simple bookmark. Nothing is marked as read. When I open it in another app it takes me to my last bookmarked location. Super simple.
My original thought is below.
Guilty. That’s right, I’m guilty of the same desire as everyone else when it comes to RSS. I want my feed to be available on all devices (easy), I want it to aggregate to one location (less easy) and I want it to be in sync when I move devices (darn.)
Most people think of RSS as Google Reader. It’s not. Google Reader was the gorilla that made RSS its own, killed off and industry, and left us hanging. RSS is so simple it’s elegant. It’s nothing more than a format for syndicating news. Simple, right? Google Reader went so far beyond that no other RSS reader has come close. Not Feedly, not Digg, no one company has managed to do more than offer a simple reader that syncs. It’s a great start, but I digress.
Yes, RSS is simple, but in this ever connected world, social media world we want it all and we want it now! So, to do that, people took a the idea of a distributed network format and put it all in a central location. A single point of failure, can you say Google Reader? Fine. You want it all in one spot, I get it. How do we make that happen and not rely on a single vendor to provide us with a service?
First we need an open standard for centralized RSS (man, that sounds wrong.) This way people writing tools can push and pull data to and from a service. I’ll bet Digg and Feedly have their own implementations of such a thing, that are nothing alike, but do what they need. Pulling together the feeds is the easy part, that’s been solved. It’s the availability on all devices and sync that’s a bit more difficult. That’s where the standard, or open, format or API, comes in. Sure, we have the browser, but it’s not exactly all that useful on all platforms. I’d like to host my own RSS aggregator service, on my hardware, and have the ability to tell that service I’ve read something and make sure the last item is bookmarked so I can pickup where I left off, possibly on another device. Yeah, I want the ability to use Reeder, or NetNewsWire, or the browser.
That’s the bottom line. Think self hosted WordPress, but for RSS reading. Sure, you can use one of the many new services springing up, that’s great, but I’d like to host it myself and make sure it works with other services to make it mine. If there were an open implementation of a centralized RSS aggregator we wouldn’t have to worry about a single vendor destroying an ecosystem and abandoning it. We’d be able to rely on each other for help and benefit from a community of like minded people. The other upside to an open solution would be the ability to extend it to make it exactly what you want! Meaning you could implement code to give you your favorite Google Reader feature and share it with the world.