Friday, January 18, 2008

FeedJournal for Facebook and Bebo

Are you on Facebook or Bebo? With the help of FeedJournal you can now use those platforms to widen the reach of your blog. Share a  newspaper edition of your feed on any of the major social networks for free!

To get started, simply visit FeedJournal Publisher, fill in your feed URL and follow the instructions on how to add the application to your Facebook or Bebo page.

As previously announced, FeedJournal already has installers for iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Piczo, Orkut, Hi5, Ning, plus a generic JavaScript snippet.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Q10 - The Beauty of Simplicity

Reading long articles on a computer is painful. Writing them can be even more painful. The problem is the constant interruptions and alluring distractions the computer brings. An e-mail alert here, and ad there, and then there's that cool flash game I furled this morning.

My solution for uninterrupted reading is to print articles, preferably in FeedJournal format. The offline alternative to writing is of course a success-story, implemented by all authors of the past. Good old pen and paper. The problem is that sacrifices are made when writing offline: I type faster than I write; I get more pain in my hands from writing; spell and grammar check are unavailable.

That's why I have been looking for a way to write uninterrupted and still use the computer. One option would be to choose a word processor's full-screen mode, to limit distractions. It has proven to be a poor option for me. Microsoft Word is not designed very well for that mode of operation and there are redundant and annoying features you can't easily remove from the system.

Sometime last year a slew of freeware applications that promised a clean writing environment popped up on the web. The concept got me hooked, but the realizations left much to be desired.

I thought I had investigated all the options out there when I today stumbled upon Q10, a Windows freeware application that provides a solid solution for writing without interference. By default, it blanks your screen and you just start to type. While there are some optional bells and whistles, what really attracts me to Q10 is the beauty of its simplicity.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Phrase Finder Completes Your Sentences

How frustrating it can be to have a phrase dangling on the tip of your tongue, unable to find the right way to finish it! I wish there were a search engine that could answer questions like:

  • What is the most common preposition after a specific verb?
  • How do people typically finish a specific phrase?
  • Which words usually lead up to this end of a sentence?

Well, now there is!

I built Phrase Finder where you can enter a part of a phrase and find out what are the most common word combinations before and after that phrase. You can search up to 6 leading words and 6 trailing words after the specified phrase unless the clause or sentence finishes before. To get the results, I parse and analyze the top 1,000 hits from Yahoo Web Search.

As a bonus, it's pretty darn fun to play around with, especially if you're a word geek.

PhraseFinder

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Newspaper Nosedive

"Is FeedJournal a threat to newspapers?" That's the most common question people ask when they first hear about FeedJournal. As I see it, FeedJournal is not a threat by itself, as much as the blogosphere it represents. Readers today have seen the light in the form of the blog; fresh thought-provoking content from their favorite writers are just a mouse-click away. They don't care if the writer is a journalist at NY Times or someone with a free Blogger account. What they do care about is that the content is niched, relevant and fresh. If the readers on top of that has the opportunity to interact with the article and its author by comments - so much the better.

Blogging means different things for different people. One important, and significantly large, group of bloggers write regularly, and on topic. These are the writers who are willing to take on the new role of the independant journalist. The smaller the niche, the larger the chance of keeping your readers. With this, we have the long tail of journalism. Mainstream newspapers cannot possibly compete with that. For example, I subscribe to a blogger who writes about my home village in Sweden, interspersed with stories from my new home, Israel, where she used to live. A traditional newspaper cannot possibly compete with that. Another example is the wealth of feeds about online publishing - high quality content where new innovative ideas are discussed and put forth daily. A traditional newspaper cannot possibly compete with that.

The future role of the traditional newspaper is about to change. These papers are continuing to cater to an average reader with average interests. By trying to tread this middleway, the newspapers are deperately trying to keep their reader base lukewarm, while the readers turns to blogs for the stuff they're passionate about. The only way newspapers can compete is by niching themselves. The prime example of this is the local newspaper, specializing in a smaller geographical region. These local newspapers have struggled lately as subscriptions have slumped, but by the single virtue of specialization they could very well be the heirs of tomorrow's dying newspaper industry.

The problem with being an individual journalist in the long tail of the blogosphere is that it is terribly difficult to make a living from it. Who will pay for the content being offered for free on the blog? Surely, online advertisements will not provide monetary benefits comparable to what the newspaper pays today. As the number of not-for-profit journalists/bloggers increases daily, the future looks more and more grim for the traditional journalist.

This post was inspired by yesterday's article "Journalism at the Crossroads: Change Or Die" by Scott Carp of Publishing 2.0. That post collects a nice set of links narrating the decline of the newsroom. Don't miss the zesty comments.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

How We Got Here

Monitoring reactions of FeedJournal Reader's beta testers is very interesting. This is a project I've been living and breathing for two years now, and it feels great to make it available again.

FeedJournal had a short life as a Windows desktop application during the 1st half of 2007. This was subsequently removed in order to pave way for the web solution, which today is called FeedJournal Reader. That decision was made as a result of a blog poll, which showed a strong preference for a browser-based product.

Along the way of finalizing the first version of FeedJournal Reader, I noticed some interest among bloggers and content providers to publish their articles as a PDF newspaper. As such a solution would be much simpler and faster to implement, and would offer a theoretically easier way to generate income via subscriptions, I decided to take a detour in the development work and offer FeedJournal Publisher first.

Today, FeedJournal Publisher is a healthy baby. Many blogs take advantage of the basic free service (sans images), and it's been garnering positive reviews in the blogosphere. The full version with the whole shebang is available as a free demo to try out by contacting me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reader Enters Private Beta

FJR-shot

A few days ago, FeedJournal Reader became available to a select group of devoted beta testers. The service, which is free, generates a newspaper with the latest content from your favorite feeds. The beta has been received very well so far. As expected, some minor bugs remain to be squashed before the service will be publicly available.

In order not to keep you in too great anticipation of what to expect in FeedJournal Reader, here's a rundown of the basic functionality:

  • Simple and Intuitive AJAX interface for adding and removing feeds from your subscription list.
  • Categorization, although it does not yet effect the final PDF.
  • Quick selection of articles to publish: "Everything since the last issue", or "all articles published during the last X days".
  • A checkbox to override individual articles to include or exclude from the newspaper.
  • Newspaper customization of paper size, paragraph count and margin size.
  • Image support is disabled for new users. I am still figuring out for whom this feature will be enabled.

This is the simplest feature set I can go live with and still offer a valuable service. My aim is to let user requests drive further development in order to avoid feature bloat and keep the service simple. Please keep suggestions and feedback coming, either via the contact form, in the forum or in the blog comments.