real-time web – Stay N Alive

Did Google Reader Just Turn on the Firehose?

Google’s big push recently has been on enabling open, real-time technologies to publish, read, and interact with its new service Buzz.  Reader, its RSS subscription and website reading service, is one of the biggest tools to integrate with the service.  So much that my Reader contacts are now my Buzz contacts.  Until now, Google Reader, while when it would share your posts, it would send updates to subscribing services via Pubsub Hubbub (PSHB), it did not support the reading end of it for supported blogs that publish via PSHB.

Just after my last post on Google ironically, I noticed immediately after publishing people were sharing my post, something very unusual for the service, which usually takes up to an hour for my posts to show up on the site.  Going into Reader, I noticed it had immediately recognized my post.  I quickly queried a friend of mine at Google, who stated, “They can neither confirm nor deny my suspicion” (that it was launched), but I was “observant”.  Sounds like they just launched Pubsub Hubbub support.

WordPress-enabled Blogs that want to be seen immediately after publishing in Google Reader just need to install Josh Fraser’s Pubsub Hubbub plugin for WordPress.  After hitting publish, your post should appear immediately afterwards in PSHB-supported clients, which, if I am correct, now includes Google Reader’s massive user base.

If this is true, you should see this post immediately after I hit publish in Google Reader.  Assuming I’m right (which it seems so), Robert Scoble’s concern of it taking too long to get news (#5) just went out the door today – he can now get this just as fast, if not faster than any service such as Twitter, FriendFeed, or Buzz, and this way, he gets to read the full content of the article.  When I hit publish on this post you will see it immediately.  You are subscribed to my feeds, right?

UPDATE: Just after hitting publish it appeared immediately in Google Reader on this post as well.  I’m 99.9% sure now that PSHB was launched on Google Reader today.

Image courtesy

LazyFeed Becomes First Real-Time Web Aggregator for rssCloud

Lazyfeed LogoToday Lazyfeed announced they had officially launched rssCloud and Pub/sub Hubbub (PSHB) support into their real-time RSS aggregator, making them the first major aggregator for rssCloud outside of Dave Winer’s own River2 client, and the first client of its type for the Web (Dave Winer’s client is written for the desktop OS).  What does this mean? It means now you have a way to get the most relevant information you are looking for real-time, as it happens.

Lazyfeed is a new aggregation service that aims to provide real-time news updates on specific topics you want to know about.  You give it the keywords you’re interested in, and it comes back, as the news happens, with the news written about those keywords.  It goes further though and provides additional suggestions for other keywords you might be interested in as they happen, and you can add those to your list as well.  See Louis Gray’s demo here for a great view of how it works.

Now, with rssCloud and PSHB support for real-time news aggregation, they are now one of the most real-time aggregators on the web.  On their blog they mentioned some of the hurdles they had to jump to get through the implementation, and ironically, Feedburner seemed to have the biggest issues with set up (through PSHB) since the Atom protocol wasn’t built natively with any sort of real-time support. No problems were mentioned about rssCloud, showing promise for the protocol developed by Dave Winer. Lazyfeed seemed to think Feedburner wasn’t even real time, based on their experience, showing a delay of a few minutes on each feed published.

Problems aside, seeing aggregators like Lazyfeed implement these technologies is promising, showing we are on the cusp of the 2010 web and real-time news and updates being at our fingertips.  I’ve talked to several other companies also getting ready to embrace these technologies and I’m pretty sure by the end of 2010 it will be an entirely new web and opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers alike.

UPDATE: Brett Slakin, one of the originators of the PSHB protocol, has clarified some of the PSHB and Feedburner issues here:

Facebook’s Deployment Record is Spinning but Seems Broken – Does it Need a Poke?

facebook-pic.pngFacebook lately has been very good at providing regular and frequent updates to its service.  So much that it has often come under the gun for updating too much to the detriment of its user experience.  I have been last to critique them on this however, as I think it’s a good thing to be listening to your users like they have, releasing early, and releasing often as users give feedback towards the experience.  I think it’s a major reason Facebook is still growing and still surviving despite Social Network users being the type to easily get bored of new technology.  There have been several launches recently which, IMO have been very loud and powerful in the way they were announced and the affect they would have on users.  You probably read about them because they were talked about on almost every major Tech blog when they were announced.  There’s still one major problem though – myself and numerous other users still haven’t received these features.

Let’s start with the launch of  one, as a heavy FriendFeed user and strong advocate of real-time updates, hits near and dear to my heart.  The Facebook stream live updates were announced over 3 weeks ago, claiming to provide you with a live update of new posts in your stream when they appeared.  A simple click on the link should make those messages appear.  While not completely real-time, it’s a step forward, and something I’ve been really looking forward to for over 3 weeks.  You can see my profile, after over an hour of not refreshing on Safari here – note there is no link with new updates:

no updates

Here’s how it should look, according to Facebook:


It should also be noted this looks the same if leaving Firefox stagnant, or running on Windows, or any other machine or browser.  This isn’t an OS or browser issue it would appear – it looks as though Facebook’s deployment routines simply haven’t gotten to my user account.  It would appear I’m not alone in this either.  Asking about this on Twitter about a week ago I got numerous responses from other Twitter and Facebook users who also were not yet seeing this in their stream.  A Facebook employee even kindly suggested I was supposed to be receiving this.  I responded saying I wasn’t, but still have not received any feedback in return from Facebook.

It would appear that’s not the only thing that is having trouble rolling out lately though.  Over a week ago, Luke Shepard, a developer at Facebook, announced a very welcome feature launching Facebook into a much more open era.  The feature enables users to link their Facebook accounts to their Gmail accounts and other OpenID providers, making Facebook an official OpenID provider.  Also, according to Shepard, users would be able to register for Facebook by simply entering their Gmail credentials.  “Now, users can register for Facebook using their Gmail accounts. This is a quicker, more streamlined way for new users to register for the site, find their friends, and start exploring,” he said.

The problem is that I still don’t see a way to do this on Facebook.  I can link my Facebook account with various OpenID providers and even Gmail, but that’s only if I have an existing account.  However, there is no option when I log into Facebook, or when I try to register with Facebook to login or register with my Gmail credentials or other OpenID credentials as he says.  Am I just the last person on their deployment list? I know I’m not the only one because this was pointed out by someone else with the same question.  If I can link my OpenID profile with my Facebook profile, but can’t login or register with it, what good is this announcement?

My login screen

Note there is no option to log in with Gmail or OpenID

Facebook registration

Note there is no option to register with Gmail or OpenID

It would appear something seems broken in the Facebook deployment process.  Either it’s just really slow, or not all users are getting the updates they’re supposed to be getting.  Or are we getting these announcements just to get the marketing spin machine going?  It would appear that this blogger is not on that list if it is the case!  Regardless, I’d really love to have the updates we were promised!

If you’re seeing the same issues, let it be known in the comments.  You can follow me on Facebook at

Goodbye RSS. Welcome Real-Time Web!

RSSA few weeks back I mentioned here that I was giving myself a whole week without a single check of my Google Reader feeds in order to see how reliant I had become on RSS, and where I could shift my priorities in order to become more productive. It’s a technique I tried last year with Twitter, and I think proves effective with anything you want to gain a new perspective on. I mentioned I was going to report after my hiatus, and I admit I have been slacking, considering it’s now almost a month later. The time has been good on me though, as I’ve been able to learn how to adapt after my hiatus, and have found several things that have worked for me.

What I Learned

Going without RSS was insightful.  I learned what was really important to me, what I may be able to do without, and what I would miss without RSS.  First of all, the things I learned that were most important:

  • Blogs I write on – it’s important for me to know what my co-authors were writing so I can stay up to date, as well as promote the content of the blogs I write for.
  • Family – I follow several of my family members who blog. Knowing what they, and close friends write about is important to me, and saves me the need for the dreaded family newsletter we used to have to pass around.
  • Guilty Pleasures – okay, perhaps these could go within the “do without” column, but let’s face it – we all have a few blogs we read that are just enjoyable to read.  They keep us sane, and give us balance to our days.

Believe it or not, that’s about it.  To help explain why, let’s go with what I can do without:

  • Most tech blogs – lets face it, I can now pull most of my favorite blogs from sites like FriendFeed and Twitter.  Better yet, FriendFeed, Facebook and Twitter work better for “media snacking” because I can filter results by number of people talking about each topic.  I can also hold a conversation with a large group of people on each topic, and help promote the blog I’m reading much more than I can in a Reader.  Believe it or not (and I learned this from my friend, Jeremiah Owyang), I can get most major news by just checking FriendFeed or Facebook or Twitter.  I have yet to miss anything I regretted losing.
  • SharingGoogle Reader (my preferred RSS Reader), and most RSS reader tools out there are very outdated in the way they let you share the feeds you read.  I would much rather share something on FriendFeed, where I can re-post out to Twitter, post an image with the feed, or encourage much more conversation, real-time, with a very large audience.  I can’t do that effectively with Google Reader.
  • Mundane news – I noticed after my week was over that I was subscribed to a lot of just dumb news that really was unimportant to me.  It was cool for that “one special article” the authors would some times write, but I found many of those were also sharing on FriendFeed or Facebook, and I could get my news there instead.  In addition, there were many news sources that would just repeat news from other sources, making many of my feeds redundant.
  • Shares from many of my friends – A lot of the shares I was getting on Google Reader I was also getting on Twitter and FriendFeed, and I was also already subscribed to the blog they were sharing.  I hid most of those sharers from view, and instead added them to my “Favorites” filter list on FriendFeed.  Now I still get all their shares, and can freely discuss, real-time with them and others rather than fracturing the conversation.  If you want to share stuff with me, make sure I see it on FriendFeed.

Of course, there were several things I found I couldn’t ever leave.  RSS is not, nor will it ever be completely unnecessary, although I can very easily see myself being proven wrong in the “never” category there as well.  I found several things I just missed, and still can’t think of a perfect way to solve.  Those include the following:

  • Blog mentions of my company, name, or brand – the infamous “ego search”, as it’s called, is very important to brands and learning what others are saying about you.  It’s how you can get eavesdrop, know where you stand, and perhaps step in where necessary.  Notice I said “blog” though.  Through FriendFeed, now in the Beta you can set up your own “ego filters” and save them in the right-hand sidebar.  Any mention of your name in the comments and posts will appear in your filters.  On Twitter, you can always use, or a separate column in TweetDeck or PeopleBrowsr, or as I’m currently doing, set up a custom search in CoTweet for your brand name and track it that way.  No RSS needed.
  • Comment tracking – on any post I do for, there is no way via Disqus for me to track just the comments from the posts that I wrote.  Therefore, I subscribe to each post’s RSS comments that I write, and any new comments come into my feed reader.  I do this with many blogs that don’t provide a way other than RSS for me to track all the comments.
  • Wiki, forum, and other site tracking – one strategy I use to get the latest data is to track the “recent changes” on MediaWiki installs.  This is available via RSS, and any change will be sent to your RSS reader.  In addition, forums do the same thing.  For forums, being replaced more and more by microblogs, it will be interesting to see how necessary this becomes, but it’s necessary for the moment.  Now, I’m curious who creates the first real-time Wiki (send your royalties my way).

RSS is not dead.  It’s just losing its value.  As the web gets more and more real-time, we are less and less having the need to have data pushed to us via RSS – we can go get what we want, when we want it, from any point in time.  We can now, through filters and real-time data, retrieve much of the data we want to get, in an environment amongst peers.  Google Reader itself is old – it’s slow to adapt, and I just can’t see it keeping up with sites such as FriendFeed, Facebook, or Twitter.

If you want me to read your stuff, I still subscribe to some RSS feeds, but if you want to guarantee I see your stuff, subscribe to me via FriendFeed and get my attention there. Your site, in order to continue in the future will need to be part of the real-time web and those that don’t keep up will be left in the past.  You can follow me on FriendFeed at (check out for a true realtime experience!), or on Facebook at  I can’t wait to read your stuff there!  You can read all the content I write across all the blogs I write for, real-time, in the custom FriendFeed room I created at – either subscribe to the room in FriendFeed, or you can add it to your RSS Reader! 😉  Of course, as always, for the old-fashioned out there you can always subscribe to this blog at

Are there any other things you can see a need to use RSS for?  What other techniques have you begun using to adapt to the real-time web?