Sunday, March 17, 2013

Clutching my pearls...

I spent some time this morning looking around at Google Reader alternatives (see yesterday's post). In the process, I ran across this alarming attempt at prognostication:

Is RSS circling the drain?

Perhaps I'm just clinging to the familiar (today it was rss, yesterday it was usenet as a legitimate vehicle for discussion), but the article's author seems to think that twitter (and/or facebook) is an adequate substitute for an rss aggregator:
Rise of better alternatives: All of your favorite publications are on Twitter and Facebook. And in case that wasn't enough, apps like Flipboard (which relies more on social feeds than RSS) are simply a better experience for consuming content.
I don't see how that's supposed to work. If a blogger I want to follow isn't tweeting or facebooking every post, how am I supposed to keep up? Or is the author's point that all bloggers should be automatically cross-posting to either twitter or facebook so that people can ignore their blogs? (Please don't! Duplicate content is so annoying!) He admits elsewhere that neither twitter or facebook are adequate for staying on top of all of a site's content:
It's OK to miss content, because the most important stuff will bubble to the top, thanks to retweets and News Feed's algorithms.
But nowhere does he offer an alternative to missing content. He just goes on to claim that "some of the world's best content no longer appears in blog posts -- it is instead encapsulated in witty 140-character comments." Oh, please -- save me from the wits and deliver me to people who share complete thoughts.

If the future of web content is in facebook and twitter, we're in really deep trouble, humans.

15 comments:

Keera Ann Fox said...

Yeah, Twitter isn't the solution for me, neither. I've let my subscription lapse, anyway.

I'm thinking I'll keep my desktop RSS-reader and use the "Follow" feature on Blogger. That way I'll have links to the blogs I read accessible on the web.

So, when do you think Google will discontinue Blogger? ;-)

alice said...

Good question! ;-D

Divers and Sundry said...

i like the way reader organizes my feeds. twitter and fb just throw everything at me. i don't use twitter. fb is where i go to find out what the latest is in cat pictures and political posters, and to see which of my friends is currently bowling or drinking coffee at starbucks, and to see who has fallen for the latest scam and conspiracy theory.

for me, they don't serve the same purpose as a feed reader.

and if they discontinue blogger... well, what _will_ i do? hmmm...

alice said...

I see no sign that google is going to lose interest in blogger, especially since I imagine they sell a lot of AdSense ads to the bloggers who use it. Once I saw the way that blogger is profitable to google, I realized that there's no cause for immediate alarm.

But it still bothers me that they could pull the rug out from under me.

Keera Ann Fox said...

What D&S said.

I got a bit curious about the background for what's happening to RSS and came across "Why Big Media Wants to Kill RSS, and Why We Shouldn't Let It ". I quote:

"[…] there are armies of media companies, developers and investors out there, with dollar signs in our eyes, who can’t wait to usher RSS off to the deadpool. For one reason and one reason only: they can’t make as much money if we read their content our way[…]"

"[t]hey" includes Google. So there you have it. We be anarchists and BigMoney don't like us.

alice said...

Interesting.

Well, this feels familiar, anyway. I don't think BigMoney has ever liked me. ;-)

Divers and Sundry said...

"armies of media companies, developers and investors out there, with dollar signs in our eyes, who can’t wait to usher RSS off to the deadpool."

that's what i'm hearing, too.

i realize if i see their sites in my feed reader but don't click thru i don't see their ads and they don't get the page views.

what they don't realize is that if i can't easily scroll past the latest stories in the reader so that i can click thru when i see something interesting, i won't ever see their site at all. i have hundreds of feeds i subscribe to. do they honestly think i'm gonna go to each of their sites to check and see if maybe they have new content that might be interesting to me? Not a chance.

discovering the feed reader (I forget my first one. owl, maybe?) broadened my internet experience.

alice said...

Yes, well said! And another thing: rss is a great thing for the blog that doesn't get updated every day. There are a lot of them out there, and some of them are commercial in nature. I follow a number of blogs that only have posts a few times a month, and I never miss a post.

Sure, go ahead and give me just an excerpt. If I'm interested, I'll click through and maybe see your ad. But at least I'll know you posted. Without rss, I'd go from following 225 blogs to maybe less than 10, because if I have to visit each and every web site just to find out if there's a new post, I'm not gonna do it!

Divers and Sundry said...

"I'd go from following 225 blogs to maybe less than 10"

yes, exactly!

i also follow some that, as you say, post infrequently/irregularly. most of their posts start with "i see it's been a while since my last post" and i won't see them at all if i have to check their site to do it.

but they haven't asked _me_ -they never do lol- so who knows what they'll do.

alice said...

If you haven't had enough of the discussion yet, it has found its way to Quora. No breaking news there, but it does confirm some of what we've been saying (for example, "RSS was not designed with the advertising industry in mind...").

alice said...

Hrmmm.... What If The Google Reader Readers Just Don’t Come Back?

Divers and Sundry said...

alice, i followed that link (thx!) and read the article. i agree with a commenter there that the danger is that everybody else will stop supporting rss since google has. i hope google's decision to kill their reader doesn't kill the source.

i'm still waiting to switch, hoping a consensus will become obvious. i hate to switch to one that fails for lack of support.

alice said...

I'm using feedly. It keeps Google Reader updated, so if I want to try anything else out before July, I can still do an export and have things be up to date. But in the meantime, I'm liking it, so I might stick with it!

Divers and Sundry said...

a lot of folks seem to be moving to feedly, which may make it the safest bet. it looks a bit visually dense to me, and i'm used to google reader's text-heavy look. i'll get used to whatever i have to in order to track the feeds, tho.

alice said...

I've been experimenting with different layouts and views. So far, I think I like the timeline layout with the magazine view. But I might change it again in another few days...