It may not sound dramatic but the latest idea from entreprenuer/programmer Dave Winer bears some watching: a river of news for mobile devices that meshes multiple RSS feeds from one news source into an easy-to-navigate stream of updated links, headlines and summaries. Winer, who played a huge role in the development of blogging, RSS and podcasting, recently began using a Blackberry and wanted a way to keep up without being overwhelmed by the torrent of feeds in his computer-based news aggregator.
His first examples are NYTimesRiver.com and BBCRiver.com, updated every 10 minutes to show the latest items at each site as posted. Each “river” has 250 items with the oldest dropping off as new ones are added; duplicates are pulled. To read the full stories, users have to click through to the site so traffic accrues to the news outlet. Winer told me during a phone chat that he sees this as a chance to introduce more people both to the power of RSS and mobile devices. This particular concept is designed to be static and to scale massively.
Winer is the NYT outsider most responsible for the site’s plethora of RSS feeds and its open-link policy to posts from those feeds. He convinced then-NYTimes Digital CEO Martin Nisenholtz back in 2002 to let him set up RSS feeds for use through Radio Userland. The NYT’s embrace of RSS helped pave the way for other major news organizations.
But a lot has changed at the Times since its first foray into RSS. What if the company has a problem with an effort that includes its name and content but isn’t NYT-run? Winer: “If they don’t want it to be on they can turn it off. I hope they don’t do that.”
— Winer also has done a few test versions of RSS-based PDA pages, including a paidContent.org edition.
Update: Winer’s announcement.