The Future of Feed Reading: What Do YOU Want?

Every now and then I’ll see a blog post predicting the future of feed reading, and invariably it’s written by someone who spends every waking moment reading their feeds.  Which is fine, of course – we certainly want to know what power users expect from the future of RSS.  But predictions from these folks are usually based on what they need from RSS, and their needs don’t always match the needs of the majority.

Most people who use an RSS reader don’t live in it.  They use it to stay up-to-date with the latest news from the blogosphere, to keep tabs on what people they trust are talking about, or simply to kill some time between more important tasks.

This blog post is aimed towards these people – the ones who love their RSS reader, but don’t feel withdrawal symptoms when they don’t use it for a day.

What do you want from your RSS reader in the future?  If you could change the future of feed reading to suit your needs, what would you want that future to look like?

56 thoughts on “The Future of Feed Reading: What Do YOU Want?

  1. As many people have said, the key thing for me is the NewsGator server architecture. I read the news on NewsGator Online at work, I classify and read bits and pieces on my iPod Touch, and I use NetNewsWire at home on my Mac. I also use FeedDemon periodically on my Vista machine, but I honestly can’t get on with the UI (sorry Nick!). I tend to use NGO if I’m on my Windows box.
    I used to have no use for RSS – I’d read the 15-20 sites I followed at work, then read them again at home, visually checking for updates. That was actually slightly quicker than having an RSS client at home which caused me to recheck all of the individual posts. I was using NNW minimally at home, thinking about buying it, and then suddenly it was all free. I started experimenting with NewsGator syncing, and suddenly RSS made sense to me. As it stands, I wouldn’t consider moving to an RSS platform without the ability to sync between different clients.
    What I would love to see is a more open NewsGator server sync system, with the ability for other clients to plug into it. I can see what this could make the existing client developers unhappy, but in the long run it could benefit the overall ecosystem enormously.

  2. Since you asked ;-p
    Bring back the old way to move and organize feeds (i.e. moving and deleting from one dialog window like it was in 1.x). The way it is now you can only do one at a time, manually, and you can’t drag and drop if the feed list needs to be scrolled. As it is now, simple organization is more of a cumbersome chore than simple task (Look at how FireFox handles organizing it’s bookmarks for reference)
    Being able to edit the ‘global’ properties of multiple feeds would be nice – turning off the data collection for 600+ individual feeds was downright painful (even doing it by folder would be an improvement)
    A stripped down plain-old feed reader without the “extras” would be nice. Having to uninstall FeeadStation every time I install a new FD version is a little annoying since there is no option to not install it in the first place. Syncing with newsgator was always impossible to use on my laptops since it would suck up all the memory and kill the internet connection (literally taking 15-30 seconds to change folders, and 20-30 minutes to update, if it would even complete updating at all!), and it caused problems even on newer machines for me as well – granted I haven’t tried the latest version on the older laptop yet, but it’s noticeably more responsive at least on a newer machine. Still, I’ve turned off the syncing on all my machines because it has simply never worked well enough for me to justify the huge hit on performance and connectivity. I’d be happy to be able sync the files to my own web server from within FD (I have been doing it manually since the beginning for the most part – compress the feed store folder and upload it to my server, and sync that between my other machines, then manually decompress it on each machine – WS_FTP’s syncing program works great for this, although I still have to manually zip/unzip the files)
    Oh, and FireFox support would be nice ;-) (even if unofficially, like the old days :p), because as it is I have to open everything in FF so I can avoid the crap that IE loves to automatically do, especially annoying flash sites that blast crap without warning.
    In short – I just want to be able to simply read my feeds in one clean and neat package, maybe keep a few articles or track things with watches occasionally, and keep things organized easily – not have to fight and figure out how to do things it used to do simply and quickly.
    (PS – your blog is telling me gmail address is invalid for some reason0

  3. My big request is more of a near-term thing. I’d like to have more control over the media types NNW downloads automatically so I can differentiate between images, video and audio (don’t need more detailed control unless you want to also add the ability to specify preferred file format downloads where a feed has multiple format options) so I can tell NNW to download images automatically for offline use but not video and audio, for example. At the moment the options are pretty limited.

  4. One of the things I want the most in a feed reader is a page monitoring feature. Not every page out there has a RSS feed, and sometimes is nice to keep tabs on certain page you’re interested in, either your typical news page, or something more exotic as an eBay auction.
    I understand this falls a bit outside what a RSS reader is, and that there are various services that allows you to create feeds based on the changes detected in a page, but they’re not exactly easy to set up, and they do not always provide the expected results. Also, there is only other newsreader with the same feature (Newzie), so that’s why I’d like to see it in FeedDemon as well :)

  5. Nick, great question and an awesome discussion.
    Perhaps changing the direction a little: what do you think is the future of RSS? Do you think the concept of a ‘feed reader’ will become mainstream, or is it simply an artifact of the digerati crowd that is currently using it?
    How does RSS / feed reading need to evolve to go ‘mainstream’? I’ve been struggling with this one in my mind for a long time. My personal hunch is that the concept of a feed reader is a misnomer for the general consumer – we’re still trying to sell SMTP, not email. Would love to hear your thoughts!

  6. @Ilya: I think RSS readers _could_ have more mainstream appeal, but mainstream customers wouldn’t want to deal with the firehose of information that today’s RSS readers would bring them. IMO, we need to get away from the idea of subscribing to individual feeds and instead focus on bringing customers the information that’s relevant to them.

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