RSS, in my opinion, has been a technology long been waiting to hit the ‘true mainstream.’ Could Fav.or.it be the answer to getting it there? Those who’ve already heard about it may be quick to point out that we’re so “last week,” but in the midst of losing my laptop power cable and transporting my e-mail back and forth from Gmail to Mail, it’s something I’ve been wanting to cover for days (truly!).
Fav.or.it does two things and two things well: it reads RSS subscriptions, and it aggregates them through popularity data. Supporting a clean user interface, users are presenting a ‘meme-aggregator’ style layout upon signing up. Only, the data is based on ratings and votes from users (a la “digging” an RSS item). The RSS reader aspect of Fav.or.it works as it traditionally should: you can hunt for or enter feeds to subscribe to, and mark items as read as you go through them. Fav.or.it lets you also add ‘names’ for feeds and categorize them. One of the unique things you can do is reply to a post or comment and track that ‘conversation’ under its own section in the sidebar.
But of course, apart from being a usable RSS reader, Fav.or.it extends much beyond it. Google Reader’s “shared items” feature has been one that’s been taking off lately within its users — as an occasional drifter, I can see a hundred upon hundred items that have been shared by my friends. The problem is, there’s no “structuring” to the end data — nothing is done with it, except shared with friends. Digg, of course, solves that. Digging a story not only shares it with friends and what not, it creates a whole experience around digg.com — the popular stuff rising to the top. And Techmeme is the computerised version of both of them, only presenting the data in the best, organized way possible. And as if we can’t get any more meta, Fav.or.it is all three. In this respect, Fav.or.it takes the best of worlds from Digg, Techmeme, and Google Reader, and jams it into a solid product.
The aggeragator aspect of Fav.or.it lets you go through popular items. One of the unique things you can do is filter through category — including Reference, News, Law, Science, Travel, etc. Each of the categories presents stories with a title and a small snippet, and related stories to them. This is of course all ranked and determined by Fav.or.it’s algorithm and user votes. The more votes an item gets, the more prominently it will be featured in its respective category, etc.
Overall, Fav.or.it provides a useful service with a great interface and an even better overall experience. While the advanced tech-heads might prefer to stick to the reader of there choice — i.e. Google Reader or Bloglines — Fav.or.it provides a worthy proposition to the majority of the mainstream audience. As for me? Being RSS reader-less at the moment, I’ll most likely give it a chance and see where it’s something for me.