Chunking and scanning RSS feeds

I've been somewhat surprised to find myself preferring the Radio UserLand aggregator to the others I also use: NetNewsWire and NewsGator. Last night I realized why: it's a matter of chunking and scanning. In RU, I scan and dismiss batches of 100 items. On a typical day, when I receive a few hundred items, that's just a couple of clicks -- modulo any additional effort to save or respond to an item. In NetNewsWire and NewsGator, it's more of an item-by-item thing. There are consolidated views available, but they display headlines (or truncated previews) only. Processing a lot of feeds feels like more work.

NewsGator is a particular interesting case. I think it's probably the best solution for Outlook users who have yet to integrate any RSS feeds into their daily routine. The email metaphor is familiar, and it's really convenient to be able to directly forward an item to colleagues. But with a lot of feeds coming in, the default hourly refresh becomes a distraction: there's always something new in that folder. Of course, if you observe Ole Eichhorn's three-hour rule, you'll refresh no oftener than that, and in fact won't even be running your email client when you need to concentrate without interruption. Even so, there's the chunking issue. You can configure NewsGator's News Page to summarize recent items, but it displays headlines only. An option to include RSS descriptions there might be useful. You can get some of this effect if you use auto preview, and route all feeds to a single folder grouped by feedname, but you're still not seeing the all-at-a-glance HTML rendering that a batch of items is capable of presenting. The same would apply to NetNewsWire's consolidated view of new items.

Update: An eerie Google moment: the #1 result for chunking and scanning is currently Writing for the Web: Chunking and Scanning, a title which marries the title of yesterday's posting with the title of today's posting.

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