Matt’s darn good idea

Speaking of RSS, Matt had this idea for an online service: RSS aggregation via email. You can do web-based aggregation with services like Feedster, but you still have to go to their site. But if you got your aggregated webfeeds by email, it really would be like the customized morning paper delivered fresh to your door. It would work like this: enter a list of your favorite website RSS feeds, and his (hypothetical) web service would mail you incremental changes to all those sites in one email at the interval you specify. As I mentioned before, this is pretty much what I do right now with Aggie, but Aggie builds a custom HTML page for me.

I threatened to out Matt’s idea on LazyWeb, but he swore me to secrecy. LazyWeb is the site where you put good ideas that you’re too lazy to act on in order to accelerate the natural process whereby every good idea you ever had eventually gets done by someone else. Finally somebody did build Matt’s Good Idea, even without the LazyWeb boost. It’s called TopFeeder. As C.G. Jung would say, Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit: Bidden or unbidden, Lazyweb abideth.

I notice, however, that the TopFeeder site appears to be defunct. So maybe Matt can build it after all.


RSS arrives

RSS isn’t a very sexy name, but its time has certainly come. What is RSS? It’s a quick summary of what’s most recently changed on a website. What makes it nice is that you can subscribe to feeds that you like and then get notified only when the site has changed and only with the new material and nothing else. I use Aggie to build me a web page every night culled from the New York Times and a variety of blogs and magazines. For me, this is the genuine and successful solution to the build-me-a-customized-newspaper problem that various companies have tried (and failed) to solve. This article from Yahoo News does a good job explaining the dang deal. And it looks like they might be on to a more consumer-friendly term than RSS: webfeed.

By the way, I have an RSS newsfeed for this very site (MovableType takes care of it for you automatically). Look for the little orange tag at the bottom of the right side of this page.

Where’s George?

After a recent purchase, my change included a battered dollar bill with a URL on it: Where’s George? is a web site dedicated to a money tracking experiment. Just like we attach radio transmitters to albatrosses and migrating antelope, we can attach a URL transmitter to a dollar bill and see where it travels, where it mates, where it gives birth, and so on. My bill was first reported in Woburn, Massachusetts at the beginning of the year, and it has since found its way to me in Watertown, Massachusetts. That’s not a long way, but then again, maybe my dollar is still learning to swim and is just about to set off on its first great road trip.

The most recorded observations on their site is thirteen. That doesn’t seem like a lot.