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The New Aggregators

The speed at which interest in new feed aggregator apps has picked up steam shows how desperate people are to put the pieces of their digital lives together in some meaningful way.

Robert Rackley
Robert Rackley
2 min read

This seems to have been the week for feed aggregators, with The Icon Factory and Silvio Rizzi (creator of the Reeder RSS reader) both announcing new apps in the space. Both are well-regarded developers with history behind them and the announcements have generated considerable interest.

The Icon Factory’s new app is called Project Tapestry and has a Kickstarter campaign as its entry into the new space. The scope of the project sounds ambitious.

With Project Tapestry, we’ll create a universal, chronological timeline for iOS for any data that’s publicly available on the Internet. A service-independent overview of your social media and information landscape. Point the app toward your services and feeds, then scroll through everything all in one place to keep up-to-date and to see where you want to dive deeper. When you find something that you want to engage with or reply to, Tapestry will let you automatically open that post in the app of your choice and reply to it there. Tapestry isn’t meant to replace your favorite Mastodon app or RSS reader, but rather to complement them and help you figure out where you want to focus your attention.

I have to admit, like many others, I find this idea appealing. Then again, I was excited about the concept of Readwise Reader, which was similar in nature in that it aggregated different types of media together in one place and standardized ways you could harvest information from those sources. I ended up being disappointed by the bloat in the application, though, and abandoned it. This is why, after initially thinking I would back the Kickstarter for Project Tapestry, my enthusiasm for it has cooled some.

I suppose I’m just not convinced you can lump together different media types in a way that works on a lowest-common-denominator basis. Each of these different feeds has a certain level of interoperability (like RSS), but with an additional feature set assumed when you are using it. Mastodon, for example, has all sorts of context of what you can do to interact with a post that won’t be available in an app that generalizes its consumption.

While I’m also excited to have come across a post on Mastodon from Silvio Rizzi describing the app he is working on, I was relieved he stated that Reeder was not going away. Rizzi will no doubt build something with utility and polish, but maybe all we need are the RSS readers we’ve had for years.


As of the writing of this post, Project Tapestry has raised almost enough to be funded.

Tech

Robert Rackley

Orthodox Christian, aspiring minimalist, inveterate notetaker, software dev manager and paper airplane mechanic.


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