Extending the Syndication feeds

I have never been one to jump on the syndication and aggregator wagons, following all the latest innovations. I still don’t provide full feeds for my syndication feeds at Burningbird; and I think Podcasting is half craze, half pirate radio station without the élan of continually escaping the clutches of the FCC.

But I do provide feeds and use Bloglines to keep up with the webloggers I read. Well, I did.

One of the problems I’ve found with Bloglines, and I imagine the same can be said for all syndication tools, is that they only provide part of the information I need about a weblog–they tell me when someone has updated. That’s good, and helps me keep up to date with my favorite reads. But what about the people who don’t update? It can be a long time before I notice that one person I read hasn’t updated for a time, perhaps even weeks. All of a sudden I think to myself, “Hey, I haven’t heard a thing from so an so for the longest time. Where are they?” and rush over to their site, only to discover that the writer has quietly folded up his or her tent and drifted away. I wasn’t even there to say good-bye, because the loss of communication doesn’t show up in my aggregator.

When I accessed the sites I read through a blogroll, I would go through the list once a day; I would notice if the person hadn’t updated. I would also notice new site designs, new comments, and various other tidbits of information that just don’t through a syndication feed, and aren’t picked up by an aggregator.

If you read hundreds, even thousands, of feeds a day, you need an aggregator. There is no better tool to use to keep up with that flow of informaiton. But if you’re like me, the flow of information isn’t as important to me, as reading a new essay by a favorite writer, and why hasn’t he updated in ever so long?

Aggregators and syndication feeds need to capture new information, such as the following:

  • How long it’s been since a person last updated.
  • Recent comments (yes I know these can be syndicated, but I want an overall activity report for the site).
  • A note that the person has redesigned their site, and I should stop reading their posts in the aggregator and go take a look and comment.
  • An indicator if the person seems discouraged because not enough ‘real people’ are clicking through and they wonder if they’re read.
  • A flag that something isn’t right with the person, which can only be deduced when looking at all of the their writing on one page, one post after another.
  • A suggested style, soft, faded gray, when the weblogger is gone forever.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email