Techcrunch has an article up on the state of online feed readers, which I think are as interesting for what they lacks as what they include. None of the feed readers reviewed seem to have feed grazer functionality. That is to say, while most will import and export OPML, none allow the direct surfing of publicly available OPML feeds (with inclusions). Each web based feed reader seems, to a greater or lesser extent, to be attempting to create a proprietary RSS walled garden.
Tech Crunch have a nice little graphic table, indicating the capacities of the existing web based services. Lets see if I can go one better, and look at the capabilities of future methods of RSS aggregation. There are several potential methods of aggregating RSS content, and I’ve tried to consider them all. Open up the screenshot below, apologies for the size, but it should just fit in a firefox tab at 1024*768. Take a gander then continue below.
Welcome back. Astute readers will notice that what I’ve described as a feed syndicator does not yet exist. It would contain elements of an online OPML editor a la OPML Manager, or OPML editor; elements of social bookmarking like Del.icio.us; media support like a podcatcher, and could optionally include social networking or even P2P elements (but that’s for another day).
The important part is, that as well as providing an additional social navigation paradigm, which could (depending on implimentation) make possible the navigation and summation of many more RSS feeds than is currently practical, remove the need for separate podcatcher applications (at least for those 80% of us who are not transfering content to portable devices), such a model would break down the walled gardens created by current RSS aggregation models.
In the feed syndicator model, the aggregation is two way, with user or service hosted, user modifiable OPML feeds providing the basis for both live aggregation and sydication. With countless potential methods of collecting and navigating feeds (check out Rowen Nairn’s OPod for the first steps toward one), there’s room for many such feed syndicators, whether at the browser, extention or web level, all interoperable via RSS and OPML.