Aggregators Integrated With Email Clients

Dave mentions the reasons that Scoble uses an aggregator that’s integrated with his email client. I have wondered why people would do that. With the ever-increasing spam load that everyone has to deal with, it would seem to me that the last thing I would want is more stuff in my Inbox. Scoble lists two things as advantages to this type of set-up: easy ability to email items of interest, and ease of saving items for later. But the thing is that neither of these features are specific to his news aggregator. Bloglines, to use my favorite example, supports both of these features.
There are actually a couple of disadvantages to integrating an aggregator with an email client, besides the spam issue mentioned above. Email clients generally take the form of a ‘3-pane’ interface. Folders on the left, message subjects top right, and individual messages bottom right. To view a message, you click on a subject. That works fine for email, where each message is an individual object unto itself. It doesn’t work as well for blog postings. For example, often times Dave will have multiple blog entries for a given day that refer to each other. Perfectly acceptable blogging practice. I want to be able to view all of his posts for that day at once, in a single window, without having to click on each individual blog entry. You can’t do that with an email-client based 3-pane aggregator. This is why Bloglines is a two-pane aggregator. You can view all the new items for a particular blog at once, or you can view all the new items for all the blogs in a particular folder at once. Less time spent clicking. Also, many blog entries don’t have titles, which makes 3-pane aggregators even more difficult.
And the big disadvantage to an email-client based aggregator is that it is a desktop app, which means that it polls all your subscriptions all the time. This wastes a lot of bandwidth when you consider all the other desktop-aggregators doing the same thing. Bloglines only polls a feed once per iteration, regardless of how many subscribers there are. This is much more friendly to content providers. And once you have a certain number of subscriptions, the number of which depends on the speed of your Internet connection, your aggregator will spend all its time polling your subscriptions, eventually falling behind. This is a BRICK WALL that all desktop based aggregators face. With Bloglines, because we’re server based, we can throw all sorts of bandwidth and extra machines at this, so that we’re always able to poll feeds on a scheduled, regular basis.
Finally, there’s the inherent advantage to server-based applications in general, ease of accessibility. You can access your Bloglines account from any ‘net connected machine. You can’t do that with a desktop-based aggregator.

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