June 22, 2011

NewsDrink Preps Next Generation Social Web RSS Reader

While some noisy Web pundits have declared RSS dead, smart developers see expanded social sharing and connections as an opportunity to rethink news consumption, leveraging RSS as a utility and making it the backbone for new services. Amidst the rise of Twitter, Facebook and other networks, we've seen the launch and rapid adoption of products like Pulse, Feedly, Ninua, Flipboard and others who have taken the geeky parts out of RSS and presented new ways to consume news.

A new site you've never seen, which I've been watching since January, has finally cracked open the door with exclusive invites to its own take on RSS with social connections. The name is NewsDrink, which starts on the Web and will soon follow on with dedicated applications for mobile phones and tablets.

(Get in now at http://www.newsdrink.com with the invite code of "louis")

Scanning Recent News on NewsDrink from My Sources

Based in Bangalore, India, NewsDrink, like other RSS readers, can import an OPML file, synchronize with Google Reader, have you add feeds one by one, or select from their extensive topic-driven directory. Content can be viewed by individual source, or sorted for recency, with newest items at the top.

Reading louisgray.com on NewsDrink

Unlike Google Reader, which is biased toward full feeds, and has a wide array of sharing functionality and statistics for your own activity as well as the blog feeds themselves, NewsDrink favors a more minimalist approach, with feed items truncated to give you a glimpse into the story, but push for downstream views if interested. That said, you can make comments or likes directly on items that flow through your view in NewsDrink, and this site activity is collected on your central profile - which also displays feeds you add or delete.

Adding New Feeds, By Category, On NewsDrink

NewsDrink goes beyond Google Reader when it comes to social, reminding me a lot of RSS projects gone by, including AssetBar in 2008 and the follow-on Shyftr, best known for its aggregation of comments on full feeds, which in my view got them in an unfair share of trouble. You can follow friends on NewsDrink, find friends from Twitter and Facebook who are using the service, and see their activity. Find a feed they are reading that you like but don't have? Add it to your NewsDrink. You can also see people they follow and have an opportunity to discover new people with similar interests - much like the promise of Toluu, another 2008 debut that has seen its founder move on to new projects.

My NewsDrink Profile With Recent Activity On Feeds

Does the world need another RSS reader besides Google Reader, or does the world need RSS at a time when it seems that social sharing is king? I still think there is a place, absolutely. One that is built from the start to be social, but also allows you that solitary approach to get in and read your feeds, could be a solid alternative. NewsDrink is a just starting, so if there are some UI bugs that are not your favorite, or missing functionality, be sure to let them know. It's all part of the fun of beta products.

To get into NewsDrink, use the invite code of "louis", without quotes. There should be enough invites for everyone. You can find NewsDrink at http://www.newsdrink.com.