Bloglines Weather Feeds; Partly Sunny

Mark Fletcher announced the release of Bloglines Weather Forecasts a couple of days back; I’ve been busy doing whuffie work, so today is all catch-up.

I’ve been awaiting the release of this functionality since my exchange with Chuck Richard of Outsell. As I wrote then regarding Chuck’s comments about Weather and Stocks:

“These were, in fact, the two most popular ‘Channels’ on PointCast, and would be a welcome addition in my aggregator. In fact, there isn’t any type of content that I can think of that I wouldn’t want to have the option of including in my aggregator.”

Some quick thoughts now that the first iteration of the offering has launched…

– Single “Feed” per geo region (international geo’s and metrics supported)
– Single “Post” per “Feed” that gets updated (vs. a constant stream of posts)
– Formatted, graphic presentation of essential weather data

What I mean by the above is that Bloglines chose not to be constrained by the current notion of how a Feed should work; rather, they use the Feed metaphor from an organizational standpoint, and present weather (largely) as users prefer to see it.

There’s always room for improvement, so here’s some (hopefully) constructive feedback…

– Update frequency appears to be twice daily. It’s 830AM right now, and Bloglines currently shows that the forecast was last updated at 1130PM yesterday; weather models change frequently and freshness is correlated with accuracy (rightly or wrongly) in most people’s minds. More updates = better. Also, even when the forecast is updated, the Feed doesn’t display as new/modified; that’d be a nice signal to the user.

– No click-through for more detailed weather info. What does light rain mean? How much will fall over the period? How much snow will accumulate? What direction is that wind blowing. This stuff matters in different scenarios.

– Only supported within Bloglines. I understand the desire to differentiate the platform, so I’m not surprised by this. And, I suspect the non-standard implementation wouldn’t hold up in other aggregators. I’ll leave it there since I’m not the target market, but just say that I’m still looking for a good weather solution in my primary aggregator.

– Email support appears to be broken in Outlook. I emailed the forecast to myself as a test. None of the condition icons rendered (yes, even after clicking to download images).

All in all? A nice start for those who use Bloglines as their primary (or online) aggregator. I look forward to seeing how the team approaches Stocks.

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One comment on “Bloglines Weather Feeds; Partly Sunny
  1. Tony,

    You just can’t whisper anymore without the whole world hearing you. One of my feeds tapped me on the shoulder and brought me to your Weather report post.

    And it drove home the problem. I added Weather to my Bloglines reader and typed in 10530, the zip for Hartsdale, NY. I get a row of rain/cloudy/sunny, hi-lo temp and wind. But I need maritime weather for sailing on the Hudson River (I wish) and know is always wrong, so need to use local Cable Channel 12’s feed, and often need hour-by-hour weather, and my mother-in-law lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil, pollen count for asthma sufferes, and on and on. Multiply weather forecast choices exponentially for sports, restaurant reviews, B2B publishing online advertising revenue sources for 10 industries I need to track, and you’re asking Bloglines or any aggregator to identify and choose themselves and list directly as any option a totally impractical number of information choices. Yes, I want them all to be available in RSS feeds, but if I’m advising Bloglines on their business plan its suicide, death by offering all choices, for Bloglines to be the direct source or point of contact for me to get those feeds. As a professional or sailor or puzzle-head I’ll have found, or will continue to find, or will have been tipped by a blogger or, god forbid, an e-mail from an acquaintance of the feeds that suit the crazy quilt that is my set of needs. Bloglines cannot predict what those will be and cannot stock several shelves with suggested sources for me. That’s the whole point. I absolutely will live within my personal aggregated space, and use search less and less. Outsell data shows that’s true across functions (sales, IT, finance, etc) and across verticals (pharma, aerospace, insurance, etc.). But even something you think of as a common interest – weather – will be increasingly personalized by each of us and Bloglines can only hit the assumed “middle interest.” And we’ve all heard the anatomical description of the average person…. not much of market serving that average. Let the content options come from the millions, the long tail, and yes, even from some publishers.