So Google Reader is closing this summer. That’s a shame. It’s been my RSS feed reader for many years. I’m currently subscribed to 163 feeds, split across London, Tech, Mac, GIS, InfoVis, financial, orienteering and general. For a while I had a specially crafted Twitter search that fed tweets into Google Reader, but I eventually realised (when this overwhelmed the reader with the volume of tweets coming in) that mixing Twitter and feed reading is not a good idea. They serve slightly different purposes.
One of the feeds I follow has suggested that, if I don’t switch feed reader, then there are other ways to keep updated – weekly email newsletters, Facebook update and Twitter updates. The thing is, none of these get quite the same level of attention: There is a continuum of information that RSS fits into.
Google Reader sits squarely between these other ways I could absorb information, but each has their own problems:
* Email – I normally get about 20-100 a day. These normally get read within a few hours of being sent, and will generally then sit in my inbox until I’ve around to filing them and replying to them – this might be a couple of months in extreme cases. The problem is that as a personal copy of each email has been delivered to you, and takes up (account) space. I feel compelled to just not let it sit there in the inbox forever.
* Google Reader – generally about 20-50 a day. I don’t feel the need to read everything, but I’ll read most recent stories if bored. Probably about 50% get read. if I particularly like a story, I’ll star it – I maybe do this on 1% of stories. But otherwise they just scroll of to the bottom.
* Facebook Updates – Facebook keeps changing the rules and algos, so it’s quite possible that, unless you pay for advertising and prominent placement, your story which you push to a Page that I subscribe to, won’t actually get seen, unless I proactively go to the Page or view my Pages tab which is obscure. It’s not a reliable free way to see content.
* Tweets – I follow around 600 people and so probably get about 2000 a day, i.e. 1-2 a minute – much higher during the afternoon than the morning or night. There’s no way I’ll see everything.
Here’s the best way to the worst way that I will see/know/act on something – the continuum of information.
- Face to face – obviously. Unless I’m trying to concentrate on simething else!
- Postal mail – it sits on my desk at home filling up space until I do something about it
- Phoning me – I can’t miss it but I might forget about it
- Tweeting me – unless I’ve done something very popular, these will generally get seen
- Mobile texts – require me to either action then, or forget but re-remember
- Facebook IM
- Work Email – will read and forget, then eventually file/reply
- Personal Email – will read and forget, then eventually file/reply
- Facebook Mail
- DMing me on Twitter – Twitter/clients are starting make this harder to see/remember
- RSS (Google Reader) – Fills an important space – I curated my view, so it is the most likely way I’ll read things that are not specifically directed to me.
- Facebook Groups – The most read non-personal content on Facebook, thanks partly to email/text notifications
- Facebook Newsfeed – I check it a lot less than Twitter but it’s also less noisy
- Twitter Timeline – too many tweets come in and scroll off too quickly
- Comment on my blog – thanks to a non-functioning mailserver.
- Facebook Pages – stories here tend to not get viewed unless paid-placement
- Websites – I actually have to visit them. This doesn’t stop me viewing a few key websites (BBC News, Diamond Geezer, Nopesport, Reddit London are my top four) almost every day.