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Dave Winer fixes mobile news consumption with River-of-News philosophy

Link: BuzzMachine � Blog Archive � The river of news.

I caught this on Jeff’s site this evening…

Dave Winer is up to something important… again. He has been talking about wanting ‘rivers of news” — that is, headlines stripped of the packaging around them to give him a constant flow of what’s new. And he just created a few to feed his — and our — mobile phones.

As Jeff goes on to explain, Dave has implemented and — simply taking the site’s feed and sticking into an html web page that your Blackberry or any mobile phone will love.  Read Dave’s blog about it.

So, that’s nothing new.  Big deal, you say. 

No.  Dave is bang on the money with his views on mobile news.  Reading news on your mobile device is a total 100% arse.

I use my Blackberry all the time to read the news.  Only this afternoon I was sat in Caffe Uno having to SCREW about with the Blackberry to read the articles. 

Here’s how it works at the moment:

1. You visit the BBC PDA site
2. You read headline of the top story and then the first paragraph of the story
3. I click through to read the rest of the story
4. I wait for the sodding page to reload
5. [ six SODDING seconds it takes for it to reload with all the gumph and images and bbc styling ]
6. I read the article
7. I take a look at the related articles at the bottom and decide they’re not for me.  But I want to read more news, so press ‘back.
8. I scroll down and select TOP STORIES.
9. [ 7 seconds for the page to load ]


10. I select a ‘top story’ and click in to read it…..Then go back to….  You know what, I really cannot be bothered to write any more, it’s that depressing.  I put up with it because, well, when I’m out and about, I want to see what’s happening.

Ok, so now…

Here’s Dave’s solution:

1. Visit  Done.

While the BBC produces some of the best content on the web — and for mobile — Dave’s fixes it all for me, perfectly.   It’s one of those problems that I’ve been sat struggling with for years, but didn’t quite know I had.  So Kudos to Mr Winer.  Kudos.

I have added in to my bookmarks and I suggest that if you are into news on your mobile, you do the same.


  1. I’m not sure that I find the increased difficulty in navigating BBCRiver offset by the negligible (for me, anyway) increase in speed of loading individual stories from the BBC’s low-graphics site (, especially when using Opera Mini. This “rivers” of news idea is one I find particularly unsuitable to mobile, where ease of navigation is arguably even more important than on a desktop browser. Perhaps it fits Dave’s preferred way of reading the news, but I don’t think it works for most people, who are probably more interested in smaller tributaries of the BBC or NYT that are either focused on their interests or allow them to more easily find those items they’re interested in.

    Still, I find it mildly amusing how the apparent realization that mobile exists as a platform from somebody like Winer spreads like wildfire among the blogging set. Welcome to the cool kids’ club, everybody 🙂

  2. Thanks! Great work explaining why the amount of work you have to do matters. I hate slogging through hierarchies of news pages waiting for them to load while I sip news in tiny teaspoon fulls. My mind can absorb a fire-hose size flow on my desktop and a garden hose on my BlackBerry, so I want the most I can get in each package. You’ve said why it works very concisely and eloquently, and thanks for taking the time to do so. Cheers!!

  3. Or if your day job requires you to sit underground, aboard aircraft or away from wireless signals, you might sync your reading onto your Blackberry/mobile phone. I used to carry pages from AvantGo with me and then discovered FreeNews. After looking at the River scraper, I think FreeNews is faster and if your carrier bills by the megabyte, FreeNews is definitely less expensive.

    I caught up with the developer:

  4. This is the approach I took with the WAP version of my games news site ( – it only ever displays the headlines, and you click through to read the story in a WAP-sized chunk. My original imode site took the headline+first line approach, although this is something i’m dropping in favour of just headlines – you can get more on the page.

    I do like this idea though (I liked it when I first read about it on Dave’s site ages ago), and I’ve got a half-written WAP site that does this for an arbitrary list of RSS feeds, but no time to complete it 🙂

  5. I have a NewsGator premium subscription, it keeps my RSS feeds synced between NetNewsWire on my desktop and laptop and I use their Mobile Edition to read my feeds on whichever phone I’m using.

    Because all the clients are syncing with NewsGator, if I read an article on my desktop, it gets marked as read on my laptop, the web interface and the mobile web interface. Similarly, if I read some articles using the mobile web interface while I’m waiting in a queue at the supermarket, those articles will be marked as read on my desktop client when I get home.

    The mobile web version shows a list of feeds that have unread articles, click on each feed to read all of that feeds unread articles in a single page with a link at the bottom to “mark all as read” which can either return you to the main list or the next feed’s unread articles (this is configurable). The mobile interface is also easily usable with one-hand on most phones (including the bulky HTC Universal I use a lot).

    I really feel get my $19.95 worth out of it. (and I’m not normally the sort of person that goes for services such as this, I normally prefer to “roll my own” solution).

  6. River of News to River of Feeds

    Dave Winer is hitting the memetracker headlines again with lots of commentary on the new mobile version of his River of News feed aggregation model. While I like that the River of News philosophy frees us from the aggregation hell

  7. We have just set up 20 ‘clean’ feeds from the BBC for the premier UK soccer teams eg Manchester United is at all the other clubs have the same pattern the initials of the club name with FC and river so Arsenal is


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