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mark fletcher, founder of bloglines, explains how google and yahoo (with google’s personalised-homepage and yahoo’s “my yahoo”) misunderstand RSS and fail to create appropriate interfaces to it:

As many people have found out, the My Yahoo metaphor of a customizable page displaying static information doesn’t scale. It may have worked in the mid-1990s. But in this particular century, with millions of blogs and other sites of interest, you need a different interface paradigm to deal with all that information.

My Yahoogle doesn’t track what information you’ve already read, and what bits are new. So, each time you visit your My Yahoogle page, it takes time to scan the page to see if there’s new information. This is a complete waste. If you only show new things, the amount of information that needs to be displayed decreases greatly. There’s less information, and it’s all new. It’s a much more efficient way of dealing with many information sources.

Another flaw in the My Yahoogle model is the idea of placing everything on one page. Besides forcing the user to become a web page designer (should I place this information source in the right corner, or left?), this again reduces the number of information sources that can be followed, to a number that can be reasonably placed on a single web page.

while i think bloglines’ interface needs to be improved in various ways (their clip, blog and search features work poorly) bloglines understands what makes RSS-feed-interfaces useful and google/yahoo simply don’t.

bloglines is to google in RSS what google was to altavista in search, seven years ago. does anybody remember altavista?


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