The river of news

Dave Winer is up to something important… again. He has been talking about wanting “rivers of news” — that is, headlines stripped of the packaging around them to give him a constant flow of what’s new. And he just created a few to feed his — and our — mobile phones.

What’s fascinating about this is that while consultants and think tanks aplenty are still running around trying to come up with fancy applications made just for mobile but Dave shows that the best application is simplicity: Just the news, sir. And keep it flowing.

He created rivers from The New York Times and the BBC and while he was at it, he created no-ballast versions of a handful of blogs (what about me, Dave?).

Note that the only graphics on the pages he created are an orange question mark that leads to an brief explanation page with a picture of Dave. That’s it. Otherwise, it’s just information. In a sense, it’s like RSS, except it’s even simpler, even dumber: just a page with an address that has the latest from a source. I’ve been using them today and they’re quite compelling just because they are so simple and fast and to-the-point.

At some point, I’ll want to customize them; I don’t want sports. And the sources will have to figure out their ad strategy for the mobile world, but they’re doing that anyway. (He points to Times printer pages, which are sponsored.) But they should take the example from this simplicity.

(Full disclosure: Dave is an investor in Daylife, where I’ve been working; that was where I first heard him push his demand for rivers of news.)

: LATER: Ewan MacLeod explains why this is better than the state of the art.