Of course, if you ask my family, they’ll tell you I’ve had an ego problem for awhile now. But now, with this piece from Jon Udell over at Infoworld, I’m just going to be completely unbearable to be around.
Since last fall, I’ve been recommending Bloglines to first-timers as the fastest and easiest introduction to the subscription side of the blogosphere. Remarkably, this same application also meets the needs of some of the most advanced users. I’ve now added myself to that list. Hats off to Mark Fletcher for putting all the pieces together in such a masterful way.
With the launch of the new Bloglines user interface a couple of weeks ago, we started publishing subscriber numbers for every blog in the system. Previously, we had only listed subscribers who had public profiles enabled, which is a small percentage of the subscriber base. Now, we include a total subscriber count with each feed. Richard MacManus has some interesting thoughts as he analyzes this information.
Chad Dickerson has a really interesting article up at Infoworld in which he talks about the problem with desktop RSS aggregators:
Fast forwarding to the present, InfoWorld.com now sees a massive surge of RSS newsreader activity at the top of every hour, presumably because most people configure their newsreaders to wake up at that time to pull their feeds. If I didn’t know how RSS worked, I would think we were being slammed by a bunch of zombies sitting on compromised home PCs. Our hourly RSS surge has all the characteristics of a distributed DoS attack, and although the requests are legitimate and small, the sheer number of requests in that short time period creates some aggravating scaling issues.
This is the scaling problem that I’ve been talking about since we launched Bloglines a year ago. It’s a serious concern. Centralized services like Bloglines avoid this problem because we only fetch a feed once regardless of how many subscribers we have to it. Desktop aggregators can’t do that, of course, and end up generating huge amounts of traffic to sites like Infoworld. There are various things that a desktop aggregator can do to mitigate the load, like using the HTTP last-modified header and supporting gzip compression. But the aggregator still has to query the server, so there will always be a load issue.
Because Bloglines has a vested interest in increasing RSS (in the generic sense) adoption, we’re looking at ways we can help. We are working on a couple of projects right now, and we’re of course open to suggestions.
There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal’s Personal Technology section this morning talking about blogs and aggregation. From the article:
Overall, I had the best experience with a service called Bloglines, and I recommend it, especially for beginners. Bloglines (www.bloglines.com) works as a Web service, which means there’s no software to install and you can catch up with your blogs from any Web browser.
Update: I’ve changed the link to point to the free version of the article.
By now you may have heard about or seen the changes we made to Bloglines last night. We upgraded the user interface and added several new features, including the ability to sort subscriptions. Also, every Bloglines user now gets his or her own blog, and the tools to easily post items to it from their subscriptions.
With such large scale changes as these, there are always little issues that come up, and we’re working to address them. We will be adding back the font size preference soon, for example. But overall it appears that our users are very happy with the upgrades, and that’s the most important thing. We’re getting great feedback so far (200 emails just this morning). We’re very lucky to have such passionate, helpful users.
I’d like to thank everyone involved in this launch. In no particular order: Joe, Cathy, Kirk, Chad, Joseph, Greg, and our advisory group. I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to work with such talented people.