I Want My Long Tail News Feed

ML Feb 23, 2007

I read my news on my mobile phone through RSS feeds. Drilling down to the full articles in a web browser is still a problem, due to low-bandwidth and tiny-displays. So, it’s a pleasure whenever I find a feed that puts the whole article into the RSS feed. But just about the only people who do this are opinion-heavy blogs. InfoWorld is an exception and a rare gem, where high quality editorial content can be fully delivered to your mobile phone for free. For technology, SlashDot and TechCrunch are pretty good, giving you the full idea of the article in the RSS feed, as are BoingBoing and EnGadget, which might go a long way to explaining the popularity of these blogs.

For the US-centric overview of news on the planet, I use a Yahoo news feed, which is mostly the associated press. I tried the BBC news to get a world-view, but that’s the same stuff plus soccer, so I’m still looking for a good RSS feed with a balanced world-view. To feed my hunger for the meme-of-the-moment, I use Memeorandum for the political scene, and Techmeme for the tech scene. I have repeatedly tried adding Digg’s RSS feed to my phone, but the phone has reported a corrupt data format every time, and I have since given up–which is especially good, since the RSS feed hardly contains any of the article, anyway.

So, this has left a hole, which has recently been filled by a much underrated service, the much-maligned “Where’s The Fire” RSS feed from Technorati. What’s so special about it, and why does it fill in a void in my news-reading activity?

I’m a long tail guy, acknowledging that there’s too much junk in the long tail to linger there (hence, me creating HitTail). So, I always seek a sort of HitTail for news. I get my mainstream fix from the Yahoo’s and NYT’s of the world. But when I venture into the tail, I want to be smart about it.

First, I want to get what others are finding interesting in the news long tail, hence Techmeme and Memeorandum. Then, I want to go off the beaten track of politics and technology, into the incredibly diverse world of everything. But I don’t want to waste time, and I want to read it all on my phone, without drilling down to the respective websites. Hence, Technorati’s WTF.

I haven’t used it long enough to know if it’s the big winner. But it is the first thing I’ve seen that has made a serious attempt to fill this void. It’s mobile-friendly long tail news on diverse subject-matter. But they have to fight the spammers and win the battle to get people to know they exist (and get over the name).

If anyone else knows of any long tail news services that cover diverse subject-matter (not just tech and politics) please let me know. I’m especially interested if they have their full articles in the RSS feed. I’m ready to subscribe.

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