One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about my RSS reader is that I’m making something that fits the way that I read across several types of screens. That’s part of the reason why I’ve made the decision to host it on my phone, rather than using a web server/service (I’d been using Dropbox but wanted a bit more control). In hosting it from my mobile, I’ve had to be more creative in how my other screens go about connecting and getting updates. In part, I think instead of the concept of syncing, I’ve come up with a little something that fits better for someone like me who likes to read some articles more than once.
I don’t sync, I read then shift.
What happens in terms of process is that I open up my mobile to read something. I start reading. If I want to shift to my tablet, I turn on the web server on my mobile and then login to the phone from the tablet (by process, that’s password protected and can only happen when the two are on the same local network). If I’m shifting state to another venue where I can’t use the mobile, but have a PC in front of me, I plug in my mobile (think USB memory key) and then open my reader there.
Thing is, it doesn’t sync across the devices. I almost don’t want it to. You see, there are many times that I read something and I’m interrupted or just want to read it again. What I do want to figure out how to develop is making items that I have read disappear from the feed listing on that specific device. That way, I’m not always reading the same items over and over again, unless I really have gone over to the screen where I’ve not read it before.
Now, when I read something I want to hold onto, I’ll either share it to Evernote or to Twitter. I don’t really live in the realm of unread counts, preferring more to just read what’s in the moment and hold onto what needs to matter a bit longer. For example, the piece that sparked this post (Sync is Key for Feed Readers, via Dave Winer’s Linkblog, one of the links on my reader). When its something that needs a comment, it goes into Evernote and I continue writing about it there – sometimes it becomes a post right from Evernote. Having written this, I should probably try to figure out how to do all of this right from the entries themselves, not relying on the browsers or devices I’m on…
In this respect, I don’t think that syncing is something that makes sense (as some others apparently think too). I do think that I’m seeing the idea of screen-able content a bit differently. Part of that implicit context that we are saying when we want a syncing feed reader is that we want something to track what we’ve read. However, tracking is just a counter, it doesn’t account for the context of reading and processing. What my RSS reader forces me to do is to either see the same item again and consider it again, or not see it again (because some of the sites I subscribe to really post a lot) and leave it away from my person until I visit their actual websites.
Technically, my RSS reader is simply a HTML 5 webpage that uses the appcache feature of HTML to download and keep onto supported devices/browsers the page. Once the page has been opened on a device, its essentially always available. At least until I clear the cache of the browser that I’m on. Screens shouldn’t have to be tethered to remember read state unless the context demands it. If something in what I’m learning about this process can develop something a bit better than sync to make this happen, I’d be pretty happy… and definitely better read.