RSS user experience

It seems like RSS feeds are the most hyped and least finessed aspect of the web right now.

I subscribe to feeds from developers' hand-rolled blogs that seem to burp out umpteen recent posts as new every time they update. Some sites manage to remove formatting, making the feed nearly unreadable (Groklaw hasn't returned my emails offering to fix their problem). Some sites include partial content, but include enough content that it's not clear whether the feed is a full-content feed or not. Even Apple's Safari browser muddies the water here by adding a "Read more..." link after each item, whether or not there's more to read.

So RSS is not a consistently smooth user experience.

But yesterday, 37signals launched Writeboard, a nice little tool for collaborative editing. My friend is soliciting reviews for a paper he's writing, so he invited me to his writeboard for it. I subscribed to the RSS feed. I hadn't had any "wow" moments with Writeboard yet, but the RSS was nice. Each revision marked with the author's name and the title of the writeboard, the full text of the article with underlining or strikethrough for the changes made, the author's name also appears in the author field -- why, they thought it through!

A nice breath of fresh air.

Update: changed the markup of this post to remove Blogger's spurious <br /> tags. Might as well practice what I'm preaching. I need to get on board Typo.