Still No Adaptive Aggregators

Album Cover: Narrow Stairs

"As the flashbulbs burst, she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child."
Death Cab For Cutie / Cath...

Posted on July 22, 2007 7:10 PM in Blogging
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Over a year ago now, I posted about a need for adaptive aggregators:

One of the most frustrating things about logging in to my Bloglines account after a long, busy day is to see the number of unread posts in the 400 to 500 range. You might be wondering, "why don't you just unsubscribe from some feeds, then?" Because these are feeds I care about. A majority of the time, the number gets really high because of feeds from Slashdot and Digg that have had a few days to build up. When the posts in those feeds get into the hundreds, clicking on them can be quite a commitment. For instance, when I click on the Digg feed, I know I've just put myself on the hook for a good fifteen minutes of reading (at least).

So what has changed about the situation? Not much.

Instead of using Bloglines, I'm now using Google Reader exclusively, which means that clicking on my Slashdot and Digg feeds isn't such a commitment anymore. However, I'm still subscribed to those feeds, and their unread counts continue to climb when I take a break from feeds for a few days. On top of that, I subscribe to quite a few search-based feeds, which can return a lot of links and pile up just as fast. Therefore, instead of seeing a total unread count in the 400 to 500 range, I see an unread count that frequently goes over 1,000. On top of that, Google Reader only reports at most 100 unread items for any blog, so that 1,000+ count is often only a low-estimate of how many feeds I've fallen behind on.

Therefore, from my perspective anyway, it looks like the amount of data I'm interested in has increased, and the amount of data with which I'm able to keep up (while staying sane) has only increased slightly. So what's a guy in my position to do? Apparently nothing. The only half-passable information that I can find on adaptive feed readers is an obscure mention of NewsAgent and a description of FreeAgent 1.00, neither of which seems to be web-based or even somewhat popular.

I know if I was working for The Google Reader Team, this would be at the top of my list of things to implement. And since I'm not, it's at #1 on my wishlist of things for them to implement. I'm even willing to do the work for a few months of giving posts a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to let them know what I care about and what I don't. I'm confident that once Google Reader got the hang of what I'm interested and what I'm not, I'd be able to cut down on the time required to read all my feeds so significantly that I could probably add a lot more and still save time. I'm guessing that for every 100 posts on Digg alone, I'd only end up reading 10 or fewer. In the long run, that's a lot of time saved (and I'd be very grateful for it).

Hopefully I don't end up posting about this problem again next year, but I have this feeling that I will.


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