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Dave Winer launches Yomoblog, web-based blog editor for mobile devices

This is the app I’ve been helping test for Dave. He’s announced it on the blackberry-bloggers Yahoo group, which is public (anyone can join), so I’m assuming it’s safe for me to blog about it.

http://yomoblog.com/startup

It’s a cross-platform, web-based, blog posting and editing tool for mobile devices (BlackBerry, Treo, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc.). Here’s a screenshot:

Here’s Dave’s instructions for trying it out:

This is where you go..http://yomoblog.com/startup

Follow the instructions.

If anything goes wrong, or unexpected, please post to the list:

1. What you did.

2. What you expected to happen.

3. What actually happened.

Your goal is to create, edit and categorize a blog post from your mobile device.

It should work on any web-enabled mobile device (or your desktop for that matter).

If you have any problems, please post them to the list, and don’t email Dave, or post them here. Make sure to include 1, 2, and 3. Also, check your Spam email folder for the confirmation email – mine ended up on there on Gmail.

Update: Dave notes that it’s not quite “released” yet – he still intends to add features, fix bugs, etc., so bear that in mind. Dave has now “officially” released YoMoBlog.

This is definitely a niche that needed to be filled, and Yomoblog works great for me so far (with my WordPress blog, anyway), so I’m happy and more productive. Thanks, Dave! It is great when we can work together to make things better. πŸ™‚

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Great mobile river of news – Topix.net

Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuasion finds some really cool stuff. This time, it’s another “river of news”-style site, Topix.net.

One cool feature – it autodetects when you go there with a mobile devices, and reformats the page appropriately. Looks perfect on my Windows Mobile phone.

You can also do specialized news queries, such as news in your area (topix.net/YOURZIPCODE).

To get the “mobile” formatted view in your desktop browser, just add ?lw=1 anywhere in the URL, like this.

Steve Rubel outlines the nitty gritty details on how to make a super-customized page on Topix. Which you can then enjoy in your desktop browser, or as a “river of news” on your mobile device.

Dave, you should definitely check this out.

EDIT: Have to play with this some more to see if it fits the true definition of a River of News – newest posts shown first.

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Why I Got Upset over Dave’s Mobile Web Discovery

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I’ve been doing some thinking, about why I even care about Dave Winer’s recent discovery of mobile web pages, and the improvements he’s started to make. And why other people care enough to attack him.

It hurts when you’ve been evangelizing something for years, with mild results, and then someone much higher profile comes along, discovers the same cool thing, and the world reacts like that high profile person just discovered/invented the coolest thing ever.

I posted a similar comment on Phil Jones’ blog, which I found via Dave.

I’ve been viewing mobile web pages daily for years, and telling and
showing people why it’s cool and useful. No one showered me with praise
for discovering the next disruptive technology. πŸ˜‰

I don’t know if it’s jealousy, or resentment, or how to name it. But I know that’s a big part of the emotional reaction I’ve had to the whole “Dave’s mobile rivers of news” thing. I’m over it, now, and looking forward to what Dave can do here. But a couple of day’s reflection brought me this, so I wanted to post it. I can’t speak for others, but I’d be willing to bet the ones saying “we’ve been doing this for years” are feeling something similar.

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Dave Winer Building a Bloglines Mobile Competitor

I guess I lied when I said I was going to stop talking about this. πŸ™‚

All is made clear with a little context. In the discussion in this Flickr thread, Dave reveals that he’s working on a Bloglines Mobile competitor – a mobile web method to read your feeds. I underestimated Dave by assuming he hadn’t thought of this, and now that I have a better idea of what he’s up to, I’m excited. Excited to see if his new service can dethrone the reigning champion of mobile RSS reading, Bloglines.

Competition is good for everyone, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Dave takes this idea. Bloglines Mobile is the gold standard, here, so Dave, make yours good enough, and I’ll switch! I’ll even be happy to pay, if it’s better than the (free) competition. πŸ™‚

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Why Dave Winer’s Mobile Pages Underwhelm Me

I think I’ve decided why I feel that Dave Winer’s reinvention/recent discovery of mobile web browsing don’t matter to me:I don’t read and don’t care about the New York Times or the BBC.

Sure, the “river of news” format is nice. But when you don’t care to read the content, what does it matter? So for people who only want to read the NYT, or the BBC, you can stop reading here, and not worry about anything beyond those sources.

I find it ironic that Dave’s whole “river of news” meme is being applied to these single source web pages. Didn’t Dave invent the aggregator, and RSS, and teach us how we can pick and choose the news sources we want to read, to decide what makes up our own personal “river of news”? Why would I limit myself to only reading one site at a time in my “river”?

“But,” you may be thinking, “what about Scoble, TechCrunch, Om, Steve Rubel, and all the other sites he made available in this format?” They’re already part of my “river of news” because I’m subscribed to them in my aggregator. In fact, they’re in both my desktop river and my mobile river because my aggregator, Bloglines, is web-based, and has an awesome mobile version that works perfectly on a BlackBerry, Windows Mobile device, Sidekick, cell phone, PDA, PSP, or anything else where the full version won’t.

Added bonus: I never have to read the same feed item twice when switching between desktop and mobile rivers, since everything stays in sync on Bloglines. It doesn’t even matter what device I’m using, since it’s all on the web.

Dave says the real beauty of his new little sites is the simplicity – there’s no setup. To say that using something like the Google Mobile Page Translator, or subscribing to feeds in Bloglines is complicated seems a little, I don’t know, condescending. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a markup language where you could keep an outline of the feeds you’re subscribed to, and use it to move your feeds between aggregators? πŸ˜‰ At any rate, it’s not too complicated for me, and in fact, I find it very simple.

I read what I want, where and when I want it, and I’m not limited to the sites that Dave makes available, thanks to another cool little thing Dave invented called RSS. πŸ˜‰

So, I think this is the last I’m going to say on the topic. Dave’s rude reactions to well-meaning reader suggestions got my hackles raised, but I’m stepping back, taking a deep breath, and wishing Dave well as he discovers new things in the world of mobile devices.

I wonder what’s going to happen when he discovers he can integrate all of his email on his BlackBerry? πŸ˜‰

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Reinventing the Mobile Web with Dave Winer

Dave Winer is an indisputably smart guy. Even though lots of people don’t always get along or agree with what he does and says, he’s contributed more to the way geeks like me read the web that just about anyone else out there. That earns him my respect, no matter his personality. πŸ˜‰

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Recently, Dave got a BlackBerry 8700, and discovered the joy of being able to read web pages on it no matter where he was at – on the train, waiting in line, etc. And, like all mobile geeks, he immediately started looking for a way to make the mobile web browsing experience easier. So he started whipping up little mobile-friendly pages of popular sites, like his own pda.scripting.com, TechCrunch, Scoble, GigaOm, MicroPersuasion, and others. And now, a “river of news” view of the New York TImes at nytimesriver.com.

Here’s what Dave’s nytimesriver.com looks like in Pocket IE on my Windows Mobile device:

Presumably, he’s taking those sites’ RSS feeds, and formatting them for display on the page. Great use of syndication to make the content more accessible on the mobile device, if you happen to want to read one of those sites on your mobile device.

But what if you want to read a site that Dave hasn’t set up a scraper/viewer for? Do you have to wait for Dave to set up a scraper for it? Beg and plead to influence him to do your requested site before everyone else’s? It seems that the next logical step would be for Dave to put up a page that will let you enter the RSS feed for your favorite site, and display a mobile-friendly view of that feed for your browsing enjoyment.

Sound familiar? πŸ™‚

Dave is understandably excited about this cool new way of viewing the web that he’s discovered. And for the sites he’s set up, it undeniably brain dead simple to use – just point your browser at the URL, and read. No setup or work required. But as we can see, it doesn’t scale. I doubt Dave wants to get into the business of creating a mobile web version of every site on the internet.

Here’s what the nytimes.com front page looks like when viewed through Google’s Mobile Page Translator:


You can feed any URL into this tool, and it will give you a mobile friendly version of the page. It will even reformat links that you follow off the page, so you stay in a mobile friendly environment. Oh, and it automatically applies this formatting to search results followed from the Google Mobile page (http://google.com/xhtml). And this is just one example – Skweezer.net provides a similar service, and Bloglines Mobile has been my tool of choice for a long time, since I can read all 1000+ of my RSS feeds in a perfectly mobile friendly web page.

So now, there are people like me, who are trying to (gently) point out to Dave that people have been doing this for years. Dave derides those people as “predictable backlash”, and claims that his way of doing the mobile web is a “turning point”, similar to how podcasting was a turning point for audio on the internet.

Dave, we love you, but we’d really like it if you took a step back here, and realized how arrogant you sound when you make claims like that, and how much it minimizes the efforts of people who have been providing and using tools for mobile web browsing for years. Yes, we’re happy that you discovered why it’s so cool, and yes, we have visions for how it could be made better in the future. But unlike podcasting, which was basically undiscovered territory, you’re jumping into a world that has a ton of prior art. And we definitely don’t want to turn you away from your newfound excitement, and willingness to innovate. On the contrary – I personally can’t wait to see what you can come up with that makes mobile web browsing even better.

So please, take a little time to become familiar with what’s already out there. Listen to people who leave comments and send you email about tools that are already doing what yours do. Give them a fair evaluation, absorb what they’re about, and then apply your knowledge and skills to help us make the whole thing better. It would be a waste of your time and ours for you to reinvent the world of mobile web browsing from the ground up.

EDIT: Dave’s response to my comment (which I also emailed him before writing this post): “I was doing aggregators before any of those people, so send them emails kvetching about how they didn’t look at what was avaialble before they started coding. ;->“. And then, after another message, “The key part of my message to you was to go kvetch at someone else.” Nice. Thanks for being open to listen to others, Dave.

Update: Bloggers are falling all over themselves telling us how cool Dave’s mobile pages are (Jeff Jarvis, Doc Searls, etc.). Kissing up to Dave? Or are the “old” geeks really just getting around to trying to view news on their mobile devices? I wonder if this is evidence of a geek generational gap? πŸ˜‰

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