Several interesting half-developments in the competitive landscape from non-dominant tech entities. I believe in supporting the second and third tier companies and startups, when they offer alternatives to the BigCo's. I like the little guys because they have an incentive to listen to and please users, without the strategy taxes almost always imposed by the big guys.
First, there is Mark Fletcher's SnapGroups. It's basically a threaded discussion group with a modern browser-based UI. It's perhaps a framework that something like FriendFeed can develop from, although it's just a framework. There are no feeds in either direction -- you can't subscribe to feeds from within SnapGroups, and it doesn't generate feeds, so I can't subscribe to stuff from SnapGroups in other RSS-aware environments. But it does look nice, and Mark is the author of Bloglines, so we know he understands feeds. These days, you can't even get into the game without basic feed support. I'd of course also like to see him support rssCloud so the connections in and out can be real-time.
Second, I just got an email from Zach Copley at Status.Net saying their software, which is an open source Twitter workalike, now supports rssCloud. That is very welcome news. I tested it with River2, and while the initial handshake worked, I'm not getting the realtime updates. I expect we'll figure out the glitch quickly and then we'll have another realtime connection. What can we do with it? We'll have to explore that. Meanwhile, it's nice to have a reason to get reacquainted with Identi.ca, which is the mother ship of Status.Net. And thanks to Zach for sticking with it.
Finally, Marshall Kirkpatrick, who writes for ReadWriteWeb, says the big players in his market, TechCrunch, Mashable, AllThingsDigital, don't pick up stories once RWW has covered them. This gives vendors an incentive to give exclusives to the big pubs, assuming they want coverage from them. Vendors who buy that are making a mistake. The news will find the people who need to know it, more now than ever. Pick a reporter who you think will understand your product and give them enough time. That's one approach, if you think you can get the attention. Otherwise, just write your own blog post, and send the links around to all the reporters, and hope they find it interesting. I know this isn't the standard advice, but the gatekeepers figure you need them a lot more than they need you, and act accordingly. It's hard to get insightful reporting from them, and I think the readers have figured that out. All pubs should follow this simple rule: write up whatever you find interesting, whenever you discover it, no matter who has already written it. Anyone who plays it differently will eventually pay a penalty. And these days "eventually" is a lot sooner than it used to be.
Remember: "People come back to places that send them away."