David Davies' Radio Weblog
No, I'm convinced, www.webogs.com with its notification-based system when a weblog has updated is the way to go for an instant news portal. Aggregate the change weblog's RSS feeds, put a search interface onto this and you have instant, globally available, local news and opinion.
Early this morning, just before 1am, there was an earthquake in the UK. Only a 4.8, mild by global standards but big for the UK, in fact the biggest mainland quake for 10 years. I was awake and working at my computer. I felt the quake and wondered just what it was (I've never experienced a quake before). So I went to the web and looked at the BBC news site. Nothing. I went to the UK geological survey site, nothing. I couldn't find confirmation anywhere that what I felt was a quake, let alone where it was centred, how big it was, etc.
I posted to my personal weblog what I felt shortly after the quake and then it struck me (no pun intended). My weblog post notified www.weblogs.com that my weblog had updated. How many other Brits had done the same? Maybe I could get confirmation from other bloggers that we had indeed just had a quake. Unfortunately I had absolutely no way of telling. Although weblogs.com could tell me who had updated I had no idea which weblogs were UK-based let alone who had posted something on the quake. In the end I went to bed knowing that it'd be several hours if not days before news items began to filter through Google.
Now wouldn't it be cool if weblogs.com not only received notification of a weblog being updated but it also knew the URL of the weblogs syndicated RSS feed. A aggregator could allow anyone to search this wealth of information to instantly find items of interest. In my case, my updated weblog, and those of others blogging the quake, would immediately be available for searching. Another victory for weblogging, instant global news rather than the delayed news of even the fastest news services. earthquake at 1am, weblog post at 1:05am, available to the world via a search interface 1:05:01am! More importantly I could have in theory found some very local instant news to confirm what I had experienced had been experienced by other. So not only instant but local.
This morning Dave notes that Google has a new news service. I agree with Dave, so what? Google news may filter through quickly by search engine standards but far too slow by blogging standards. I want to be able to search a weblog the instant it's updated. While Dave's personal aggregator helps it only helps with feeds you've subscribed to. As it happens I don't know who all the bloggers are in my part of the UK so I have no way of finding them. And besides, I probably won't want to subscribe to their weblog on a permanent basis, I was just looking to see who else had posted about the great UK quake of '02.
There's only one piece missing from Dave's article, the means to instantly search updated weblogs. I think www.weblogs.com could allow this and at a stroke be the most up to date news service in the world. Beat that Google.
IM has been around on the Internet for a long time, most notably as IRC (since at least 1988 according to Google). As with other long-standing Internet protocols and applications, the growth in popularity has been steady but slow. However, once the user base reaches a certain critical size, once the software vendors make the software accessible, user-friendly and fun or once an application catches the imagination (witness the uptake of smileys and other so-called emoticons into not only IM clients buts also other forms of communication) then there's an inflection of the growth curve and the popularity explodes. Available figures from the communications industry suggest that messaging will be the biggest growth area for all wireless data applications over the next 2-3 years. Bigco announcements such as Apple's announcement to support the AIM protocol in its new iChat application that ships with its latest version of OS X confirms that IM is going to be big business. Convergence of IM and SMS, that other instant communication phenomenon can't be far away.
UserLand's smart move was giving Frontier and Radio IM capability at a low enough level to allow users to build their own IM applications. The first implementation of IM in Frontier and Radio is modest and relatively low key. As soon as awareness of this new capability reaches the UserLand developer community we can expect to see some very powerful uses of IM emerge. Integration of Frontier and Radio with the Jabber protocol looks particularly interesting and at the last count there were 44 proposals to enhance the protocol, proof if proof were needed that there's a very active IM developer community.
As a Mac OS X user, I think the integration of IM with the desktop environment, the support for system level XML-RPC and the release of IM support in Frontier and Radio opens up some very interesting possibilities.