What is a tickerfeed?
Well, when you read this post, you may ask “What the hell is tickerfeed?”. To explain what tickerfeed is, we need to go back in time, when the idea for it was born. I guess you all know, what a push notification: E.g. when someone writes you a message in WhatsApp, usually, your phone vibrates and shows you a tiny notification with an excerpt of the message on the screen. You can tap on it, which opens the complete message in WhatsApp, or ignore it. This is a push notification. The nice thing about push notifications is, as the name implies, they are “pushed” to your phone in real-time, without a delay. So, using the WhatsApp example: You receive the notification in the same moment, when the message was sent to you. Today, push notifications are nothing special anymore, lots of apps use them.
Now, back to tickerfeed. The idea was to create an app, which simply informs you via push notification, when something interesting happens, that you care about. But there are two features, that were really important for me. First of all, it should work without registration and anonymous. Unlike other apps, where you first have to register an account, you can simply start using the app, subscribe to interesting stuff and start receive push notifications. Second, the user has full control over the app, subscriptions and notifications. Settings are not hidden in hundreds of submenus, where you can’t find them. Maybe, this does not sound “fancy”, but it was important for me. My personal “you have no control, we know better what you should read” nightmare was back in the old days, when I still had a facebook account: Facebook flooded my E-Mail Inbox with useless crap and things that I didn’t care about. So, I wanted to change the settings on the Facebook homepage to receive only E-Mails for new friend invitations, but there was a simple problem: The site, where you could change your E-Mail settings, had hundreds of check boxes with tiny text beneath it. It was so confusing, that it would have taken me “years” to read and understand every check box. Therefore, I ended with a simple solution: I created a simple filter, that moved all E-Mails form @facebook.com to trash. Maybe, this has changed in the past, but I don’t know, as I don’t have a facebook account anymore.
ticker + feed = tickerfeed
So, how does this all work? Well, it is really easy: You open a Ticker in the app (it’s basically an entity, that you are interested in), that you care about and you can subscribe the Feeds (think of it as different categories) in it. And when you subscribed a Feed, you have the option to receive push notifications, when a message is send to the Feed.
Here’s a simple example: Let’s say, you like the New York Times. In this case, take a look at the New York Times Ticker (I added this Ticker manually, and use the available RSS Feeds to create the messages). The Feeds are basically all the different categories (like Politics, Sports, Business, Technology). If you care about Technology and Sports, you can subscribe these Feeds. If you always want to get the latest Sports news, when they are posted, you can enable to receive push notifications.
On the left image, you see the message list. When you open the app, all the messages from your subscribed Feeds will be there, ordered by date. The right image shows a Ticker and the Feeds in it. You have the options to subscribe a Feed and enable push notifications.
It’s not “just another feed-reader”
Okay, now you may say: “That’s a long post, just to present another feed-reader!”. Well, I strongly disagree. Feed-readers have two disadvantages: First, they are strongly coupled to a homepage and an RSS Feed. Tickerfeed does not require you to have a homepage or a RSS Feed. If you want to have your own Ticker and start posting messages, just open the app, create the Ticker and Feeds and share it with your friends. Second, (do you remember, what I wrote at beginning of the post?), tickerfeed makes heavy use of push notifications. So, important messages are delivered to you, when they happen, and not when you start the app. Therefore, tickerfeed is an “active” app, while feed-readers are only “passive”.
So, everyone out there, just create your own Ticker. Tickerfeed is not just about big news sites, everyone can use it. If you have a local hiking group, inform everyone about new events. Or start your live Ticker for your favourite (niche) sport. You have so much possibilities.
Social networks produce too much noise
“Meh, I will continue to deliver news via xyz.”… that’s okay, I am not forcing anyone to use tickerfeed. But let’s be serious, you should “use the right tool for the right job”. I guess nearly everyone is or was in a WhatsApp-Group, with the only purpose to exchange important information (like appointments, kindergarten group, and other stuff), where suddenly two or three persons go frenzy in the night and spam the group with useless stuff.
Or in the last months, I have seen, that lots of news sites started to use WhatsApp as a feed-reader replacement. Well… seriously, why? First of all, I don’t want to give them my phone number and second, I have no control about the amount of messages or categories, that I receive. This is a stupid idea.
And there’s Twitter. Every big site has its own twitter account, where they simply re-post all the things, that they create. Well… that’s not how you use Twitter. First of all, you have, again, no control about categories. Some sites produce a tweet every few minutes. That’s just too much. And if you look at the average retweet or like count of tweet (from sites, with more than one million followers), you see a certain imbalance of followers, that just follow the account for gods sake, and followers, that are interested in the information. And last but not least, Twitter really produces a lot of noise. In my twitter account, I once followed over one hundred people (for gods sake to just follow lots of people). Well, that was a bad mistake. All the tweets produced so much noise, that it was really easy to miss the interesting tweets.
Btw. this is no WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter bashing. I personally use and really like WhatsApp and Twitter, but please, everyone out there, stop using them the wrong.
Powerful Tools for the Publishers
Just some words for the publishers out there, if you don’t want to use the app to post messages. Under the hood, tickerfeed has some really nice tools to help you out. First of all, if you have a website and already a RSS Feed, it is really simple to get your content into tickerfeed. So called Connectors will help you. When you create a Feed, you can set for example an RSS Connector for this Feed, which will periodically check your RSS Feed for new items and post them directly to your Feed. There are also other Connectors available, e.g. for YouTube, Instagram, etc. And there’s also an API available, if you want to include into you backend. Check out the tickerfeed developer website for more information.