Sure, at various points over the last several years I’ve joined in the lamentations of others over the fate of Google Reader. As a die hard RSS junkie, it was a tool I used for a good long while, and continue to believe Google could have funded it for decades using half of what it spends on seafood for the employee commissary in a month.
But my RSS usage didn’t begin with Reader, nor did it end there. Prior to Reader there was Newsgator and before that there was Bloglines. After Reader’s demise there was Digg Reader and Feedly, the latter of which I continue to use today.
Because I spend so much of each day with my nose in my RSS feeds, I have a few thoughts on what kind of features might be attractive were some company interested in evolving what has, over the last several years, been a relatively static product.
Mute Topics: There are certain things I never need to read about. Listing them here would likely sound exclusionary and pretentious, but that’s the truth. Sometimes those stories come from sites that I want to continue reading, published more out of fear of losing web traffic than any actual editorial direction. Similar to how you can mute keywords on Twitter, it would be nice just to occasionally add to, remove from or edit a list of keywords I’m uninterested in within the RSS ecosystem.
Note that this is not the same as the suggestion some people have made over the years to remove duplicate stories. I’m alright seeing two different takes on the same story, but want to specifically exclude a topic or two now and again.
Feed Suspended Alerts: Sometimes I realize “Huh…It’s been a minute since I saw a story from X outlet” only to dive in and realize nothing has been published to that feed for eight months or so. Maybe they just changed feeds, maybe they stopped pushing to RSS entirely.
A notification system that calls out when a feed hasn’t published for an extended period of time — let’s say 90 days — would be helpful. With that information I could either check to see if something has changed or just make sure to unfollow and keep my subscriptions nice and tidy.
In-App Drafting/Notes: Right now my process involves keeping a Text Edit document on my desktop where I draft posts or notes related to some of the stories I’ve come across if I’ve found them interesting enough. But that seems…wonky…and would love to have something right within the RSS window with a simple rich text editor. Think Evernote’s “quick notes” box, or even Google Keep.
What I’m looking for is an in-browser tool that will let me write while still having the story I’m referencing visible in the browser window.
Read Later: This one is simple: I want something better than the current “star” or “highlight” stories functionality, something closer to what I get in Pocket, but within the same RSS app. Basically, I don’t want to have to go to two places for a split experience.