I must admit I was somewhat interested when I saw a mention of Dave Winer’s new (or not so new, depending on whom you read) mobile “river of news” thingamajig — if only because I have used a BlackBerry and a Treo and a UTStarcom Windows device to read RSS feeds, and have yet to find anything that I really like. Google’s mobile version of its Reader comes close, but it has its flaws too. So I checked out the mobile feed that Dave set up for the New York Times, and for the BBC, and it looked OK. But it still was kind of klunky in a way that is difficult to describe, as far as navigation is concerned.
There were a couple of other things that rubbed me the wrong way too, and others have put them into words for me: Paul Kedrosky, for example, was one of the ones who noted that this type of feed is hardly new — as did Rogers Cadenhead, who admittedly has a somewhat fractious past involving Mr. Winer and some lawyers and so forth, and Josh Bancroft (although Josh seems to have modified his thoughts somewhat since).
As usual when Dave is involved, one of the irritants was just the way he puts things — not just grandstanding, as he does about how much money he makes, but also the cryptic comments that make it obvious he’s trying to get back at someone. My buddy Kent Newsome does a good job of describing this Winer M.O., although he is much kinder that I usually am.
As for the idea that Dave’s rivers of news will be easier for people to read than existing solutions, how easy is it to have to bookmark a new URL for every new mobile feed? I get the fact that he’s working on something like mobile Bloglines, which Josh said changed his mind about the whole thing — I just don’t see why he has to pretend that it’s some kind of revolution. Ian Betteridge wonders too, and as usual, Shelley has her own caustic and hilarious take on it.