Synchronizing RSS Feed Data

While this idea may seem odd at first –  think it’s a hell of an idea,

Feedburner, FeedGhost, Onfolio, and others all offer a web-based synchronization mechanism – where you can keep your feeds synchronized between computers.  Basically it’s liking having a book that you never need to carry with you, but anywhere you go you can pick it up and open it to the last page you read.  It’s a cool feature, and it makes life a lot easier for people like me that routinely use at least three different computers a day.  The computer I am using no longer matters – the data is not local, the “chapter I am reading” is stored on the Internet.

So I can quickly get back to where I was before I switched computers.

Here’s the idea – provide this platform – an RSS Syncing platform.  You don’t even need to have your own RSS reader.  Provide the platform, and provide open API’s.  Let any Feed Reader use it – for free.  Make your money off the aggregate data you get from the users.

Why would it be cool for me the user?  Several reasons… If I was on a borrowed or public computer I could read feeds on Google Reader.  If I was at home I could use FeedGhost on my Windows box.  If I was doing work for a Linux customer (as I am now) I could use any number of Linux feed readers.  If I was doing research I could use BlogBridge (which I love for research but not much as an every day blog reader).  And everything would be in sync – always.

And the company that provides the open API would get BILLIONS of hits a year.  They would know a LOT of aggregate information that has a LOT of value.

If you build it, I will use it!



  1. Stu – thanks for the thoughtful response. Of course, you brought up some great points that I was unaware of (or I conveniently ignored!)

    Being a technologist, and an idealist, I often don’t let minor things like, it doesn’t make sense, or there’s no money in it, to cloud my vision!

    I guess I’ll just push you guys really hard to incorporate all the best features of the various readers into FeedGhost! Like the SmartFeed feature in BlogBridge – I use it all the time for research. Say I’m interested in “Social Video Editing” – I can create a Smart Feed for that and BlogBridge creates a feed from a huge number of RSS Feeds that contains items matching my search criteria. It is _very_ useful.

    BlogBridge also has Reading Lists, which I use – I think you are already planning one like this.

    The Google Shared Reading list – I see you are also looking into something like that based on tags – that’s cool – especially if I can use any tags I want – and then generate feeds based on any and/or all of those tags (one feed for “Favorite”, another feed for “Social Video Editing”, etc)

    Anyway, you’ll see enough of me in your forums!

    Thanks again for the thoughts!


  2. It is a nice idea, and I think one day it will happen. A few thoughts, in random order:

    1. You can’t really just have a synchronization service, unless you’re certain readers will connect to it. One of way doing this is to write your own, hence the pairings of readers and custom sync services.
    2. Companies are generally wary of letting others in on a central part of their business. Equally, companies are wary of depending on someone else’s services for a central part of their business.
    3. Running a sync service costs real money, so either it would have to be a funded open source project, or one of the big players would have to start it as a loss leader.
    4. Making money from the aggregate data is tricky, unless that’s your main business (e.g. Google). Advertising doesn’t really pay anything except for the ultra-high traffic sites.

    At FeedGhost, we’re planning to integrate with the Windows RSS platform in the future. We also looked into working with the Google Reader API, but there were two issues: one was authentication, and the other is the fact that the Google Reader API is still in flux. Perhaps in the future.

    On the other hand, if a third-party wanted to integrate with our services, we’d probably be happy to provide details, provided each user had the usual $20 subscription.

    Of course, FeedGhost is a tiny, tiny company and we just don’t feature on the radar of most companies, so even beginning a conversation is tricky. (For example, we wanted to integrate with Technorati search, and we sent various emails to various people and web contact forms but we couldn’t get a single reply from that company).