River of News, etc.

I was out of town when the “River of News” thread made the rounds again last week, but I figure it’s never too late to join the conversation :)

Really, it’s no revelation when an RSS reader displays a river a news. Many RSS readers offer this approach, either by default (as FeedDemon does) or through a bit of tweaking. But I’ve written about this subject before, and my opinion remains the same: while I believe the river of news approach is a great way to quickly scan for interesting articles, I agree with Chip Camden that it’s often more useful to group new articles by their source feed. I need to put each article into context, so a steady stream of articles from different sources doesn’t work for me.

As this screenshot illustrates, grouping new articles by their feed is the approach I use with FeedDemon. But you don’t have to stick with that approach – for example, here’s a screenshot of the same set of articles grouped by date instead of by feed. And you can view an entire folder of articles, or you can view each feed one-at-a-time. Plus you can choose to view only new items, items posted today, items posted yesterday, etc. To me, the whole point of a river of news is to enable quickly scanning for articles that interest you, and the flexibility of FeedDemon’s UI enables you to find the approach that works best for you – so Scoble can have his folder approach, Marc Orchant and Michael Gartenberg can have their per-feed approach, I can have my river approach, and you can have whatever approach you like (if you want, you can even make FeedDemon take a per-article approach so it works more like Microsoft Outlook).

While we’re on the subject, last week Dave Winer made this post about aggregators which force users to delete articles, and he also mentioned the fact that his reader doesn’t enable searching previously downloaded articles. Dave, I get the impression that you aren’t staying up to date with modern RSS readers, because several existing aggregators already address these concerns. For example, FeedDemon has never required deleting articles – by default, you only see stuff you haven’t read, and older items are cached so that you can search them. As this cropped screenshot demonstrates, FeedDemon enables searching every cached article in your subscriptions (and you can limit the search to a specific feed or folder).