Tag Archives: dave winer

Dave Winer Releases Electric River RSS Aggregator

Electric RiverDave Winer recently announced the release of the Electric River desktop RSS aggregator for Mac. Electric River was created within the Electron programming language and it uses elements from the open source River5 project.

The Electric River app is a friendly RSS aggregator currently available as a downloadable Mac app (Winer hopes Linux and Windows versions of Electric River will be released soon). More on Electric River from Winer’s blog:

There’s a lot of power in there — it is the full unmodified River5 from the GitHub site. When you lift the hood there’s your Lists folder, Data folder, Rivers folder, all the pieces are there, and all the generality. While we have a UI for editing one list, you can have as many lists as you like.

There will also be a new release of River5 coming with this, with the addition of three new callbacks that allow us to do things a bit more efficiently because the reading and configuring app is running in the same process as the server.

I approached this project once before, a couple of years ago, but I didn’t have enough experience with Electron, Node and JavaScript to trust the result. Now I am reasonably confident that this will work.

I downloaded and tested Electric River on my iMac. The app comes preloaded with a selection of news sources, including NPR, New York Times, Laughing Squid, and more. The user interface (see image above) is dead simple to use, with immediately recognizable controls for adding and removing feeds.

Clicking the Docs tab at the top of the Electric River interface provides quick access to the files that come with the download, for those who want to manipulate the contents of their RSS aggregation at a more advanced level.

Electric River for Mac is available as a free download.

History Is About To Repeat

I remember it well. Back around October of 2004, I first heard the word “podcast” used on The David Lawrence Show via my XM Satellite Radio. It sounded interesting, and I wrote it down on my driver logbook cover with the idea of looking it up later. I heard David mention it again once or twice over the next few weeks. Finally, in early December of 2004 I finally got around to looking it up. I found Adam Curry’s podcast, realized what it was, and knew that I felt compelled to not only listen to podcasts but get involved as a podcaster myself. This was exactly what I’d been looking for for many years – a wide variety of content that I could choose, download, and control the playback/consumption of on MY terms.

Podcasting took previously-existing elements and applied them with a new twist. MP3 files had already existed for a number of years. Virtually every computer already came with a sound card and had the basic ability to both play back and record audio. Portable MP3 players had been around for a while. Apart from Adam Curry’s and Dave Winer’s contribution of the podcasting concept and making it work, the one key element that suddenly made podcasting viable and actually inevitable was the fact that Internet bandwidth got good enough to make it practical.

Practical is an important key.

We have now passed another important milestone in terms of mobile bandwidth. Mobile bandwidth, while not yet perfect, has improved dramatically in both terms of data delivery and coverage. About three or more years ago I had experimented with streaming audio via my smartphone while driving my truck, and quickly determined that it wasn’t viable. I couldn’t listen long at all before I would lose the stream. No problem, I had plenty of podcasts to listen to.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about Pandora.Com lately, so last week I finally tried the Pandora Android app out on my new Sprint HTC Evo. To my surprise, it worked amazingly well – even in Arizona and the western third of New Mexico along Interstate 40 where Sprint still has 1XRT service. The streaming music sounded great, and the few times it did briefly drop out in a couple of mountainous areas, it automatically reconnected and reestablished the playback stream.

(By the way, a side note – I was surprised to learn that Verizon has NO data card coverage around the Kingman, Arizona area – my Verizon aircard would NOT connect in the Kingman area.)

Streaming radio via the Internet in a moving vehicle is now practical. Smartphones have also reached critical mass to the point where they are really beginning to move into the mainstream. Even though streaming Internet audio has been around for quite a few years at this point, I believe the automotive market for streaming audio is about to open up in a massive way.

Up until this point most people have felt that streaming Internet radio had plateaued or was only going to grow slowly. I believe that improved cell networks along with smartphone proliferation will create a new market for streaming audio services. The automobile has been the traditional stronghold of terrestrial and now satellite radio services. An old kid that’s been around a while suddenly has a big and growing shot at a new lease-on life.

I believe opportunities exist for streaming Internet radio stations that deliver highly specialized content. For us geeks, imagine a 24/7 tech-centric streaming station. The sky really is the limit. The cost of running a streaming station can be very low, so therefore it becomes possible and practical to narrowcast to relatively small audiences.

RSS Cloud Important but Feedburner feeds will still be slow to update!

I have been advocate controlling ones own feed for many years. In fact I was often criticized for being a vocal opponent to FeedBurner.  The hammer has fallen again for those that rely on FeedBurner, as most of us know FeedBurner is very slow to update data from your master feed additionally they have been known to strip items from feeds before so it will be curious to see if FeedBurner users will be able to use the Cloud tag at all.

Here is where FeedBurner users are going to get bent over when it comes to this new way of instant notification to those subscribers that opt in for instant notification of your blog updates.

Example: Lets say you post a blog post on a UFO landing on your yard.  In order to get the scoop of the century you rush to post the encounter on your blog. Once you hit publish it may take a considerable amount of time for FeedBurner to re-cache your feed. Meanwhile if I live next door, and control my own RSS feed like I do now the moment I hit publish my RSS feed updates my subscribers get instantly notified and I essentially beat you to the scoop of the century.

Well with the introduction today of RSS Cloud for WordPress those that control their own feeds will now be able to push information to sites and services that implement the RSS Cloud features.

Matt over at WordPress has this to say about the new feature: “Why is this important? Right now how most people interact with feeds is by checking that it updated every now and then, usually about once an hour. Can you imagine waiting an hour to get your emails? (The world would probably be more productive.) RSS Cloud is an extra element in your RSS feed that allows subscribers to say “Hey, let me know as soon as you’ve updated, kthx.”

Feedburner users are going to have a little time to bang on the folks at FeedBurner to get this implemented as  there is only one Feed Reading service that supports this today and that is River2 by none other Dave Winer. You can be 100% assured that in a very short period we will see more feed reader services, and a whole cottage industry pop up over instant notification of blog post on those blogs you follow the most.

The best thing this is through existing RSS tags and we will not be beholden to the folks at pubsubhubbub which I never fully agreed with their implementation anyway. This opens a world of possibilities and will be a very big deal!

This is as big as Twitter, mark my words! If enough sites implement this, then the so called blogging erosion will cease because in my opinion it is always better to build your brand then someone elses and to date my blog has not received a lot of Google Juice from post I have put on Twitter, sure I get great traffic from my Twitter followers but I would rather to continue to build my brand here versus someone elses.