Tag Archives: social

The Hard Truth About Google Reader And What I Want As A Replacement


Obviously last week was a terrible week to be a Google fan boy  You probably didn’t get into I/O, but more importantly, you heard of the demise of Google reader.

People are saying this is good because it will breed innovation, something that Google destroyed when it released its product 8 years ago. The problem is that I don’t want some gorgeous app. I want to quickly read the headlines of my feed with or without a blurb, and to move on. I also want it synced to all my devices.

Why Google killed reader has conspiracy nuts going.  It probably came down to 1) not being able to monetize the product, and 2) Resources they need are going to the wrong place.  The Reader team was basically on borrowed time.  Now what Google does with Reader is a different story.  My hope is that it gets merged with Google+ in a way that makes everyone happy (or at least appeases them).

The stated reason was that nobody uses RSS.  My mother doesn’t use RSS.  Most people can’t spell or elaborate on RSS.  RSS is used in the back rooms giving people things to read.  Someone chose today’s story of the day, and it went viral.  The problem is we are giving power to a select few to curate content for us. The social sharing is not what I want.  I don’t want other people telling me what to read.  On some level I want that granularity.  For a long time, and still am, a Fark.com follower.  Their idea was get editor approved content, or pay $5/month and see EVERYTHING.  Everything was so much with too little time, I ended up trusted the editors.  Trusting the editors was after years of making sure they chose articles relevant to my interest.  90% of the time they were spot on.

As the Internet gets more ingrained in our lives, and our attention span becomes shorter, people want the best news of the day.  Well, I don’t… I want to be known for knowing as much as I can on technology.  I want people to ask me.

I do like Flipboard, Pulse, Current, Zite, and others.  I do like that they give you a magazine layout.  The issue is that I parse articles, I don’t read them.  When I do read them, I do want something like those mentioned above.

Here is Flipboard, my current favorite, catch up on The Economist, magazine reader:


For that style app, it is one of the best.  I highly recommend it.  As an aggregator  however, it is terrible.

As a contrast, here is my Google Reader:


readerNotice how many articles I have to go through.  At the time of this writing it is 760 articles.  Of those articles maybe I’ll look at 100.  250 of these articles are cat pictures.

I have on my list, The Verge, Gizmodo, and Engadget.  Most of the time those sites duplicate articles.  The Verge alone posts 75 articles a day, most of them have little interest for more than a headline.  I really don’t want to flip through a gorgeous UI for that.  I want in, get the information, than leave.

So what exactly do I want?

If we are starting from scratch, then here are my choices for a good application that I would pay money for.

Must Haves (Deal-breakers)

Quick access to feeds.  This is the most important thing.  I must be able to quickly access feeds, mark as read, and navigate.  Like I said, my workflow is such that I need to quickly read articles.  I need quick access to those that interest me, and a quick way to skip over those who don’t.

Provide a web interface AND access to an app, or allow an API so others can access it.  Most of the current iOS/Android apps hook into Google Reader API.  I need to have access on any device I use.  It doesn’t have to be a standalone app, but it should allow others to integrate it (paid if need be).

The ability to sync across devices.  I use many devices during the day.  I need access to news where ever I am.  I need to also keep my spot in line.  I may be a power user, but I need to know that I’m not reading duplicate entries all throughout the day.

Good to have:

Different Views:  Allow me to set headlines only, blurb form, or full article form.  Actually have it laid out based on screen size.

oAuth:  I do not want separate account information unless needed.  Find a way that I can log in with the social networks, mainly Google+.

Social Sharing: Be able to at least email a post to someone.  It would be good if the major sharing sites (including Google+) is there

Read it Later:  Same as social sharing.  Allow access to the read it later sites like Instapaper.  If you could “send to Kindle” I would pay for that.

Local Storage/Offline Access: Most of the aggregators already do this.  Harness HTML5 for data storage.

Paid (Ad Free Service):  I have no problem paying server costs.  Allow ads, or allow people to pay for the service and make it advertising free.

Algorithmically generated stories:  If I subscribe to blogs, try to suggest others that I may like. Even better, have a local section based on location that will populate a folder called “local news.”

Subscribe to Bundles:  Since data mining should be done, find out the most popular news feeds, and allow people to subscribe to them in themes.

Extensions for media:  If the RSS feed is a podcast, I want the ability to hit play.


As you can see, your favorite application for reading RSS probably has this built in.  Hopefully Google gave them long enough to figure out a back end to allow hosting.

I’m disabling comments.  If you would like to comment, follow the Google+ link.  https://plus.google.com/107779029598075532555/posts/1wVjCMWJqWs

A Rant About Sharing Circles

I love Google+, but I’m sure you know that already.  However it does have its issues, just like any other social network.  In trying to find people to communicate with the issue of sharing circles has really bothered me.  The only other idea like sharing circles that I can think of is #FollowFriday and Retweeting or Share.  But if you want to find a group of people, Google created a share circle feature.  The technical implementation is very good, but the problem is the human element.

So in trying to be more friendly, I’ve accepted circles on topics I am interested in, such as Android people, Nexus people, and fitness people but each time I am disappointed.

It seems like people are just aggregating people to put in their list.  Does that 500 person circle really have 500 people who are passionate about Android?

Here are the people I see:
30 – 50 active people who I’m thankful for finding.
30 – 50 people who don’t post EVER in my language
20 – 30 Pages (not people)
250 people who have posted once.
100 people who posted once about said topic, and then have never posted about said topic ever again.

What I end up doing is putting them in a “test folder” then moving them away into proper circles.  Generally, I look at someone’s profile after they have circled me back, and make my decision.  Unpopular as it is, but I want people with my interests.  I also want people who have spent the time to follow me back.

Since I’ve accepted circles, most of them I have just deleted because they are filled with too much dead weight.  I want the people who comment, engage, and are a positive asset to the community.  I sure hope that I am setting the engagement example.

All I ask is that if you post a circle, please curate it so all of us get the best people to follow.


The Fight Between the Three Major Social Networks

Before I start, I think this graph is ultra biased.  1000+ days ago was 2008.  Facebook was released in parts first to college, then to high school, then to entities.  Twitter was created in 2006, to the still lingering question, “What do I do with this.” Google being the number 1 search engine by a huge margin, has been creating rumors about their social network. When it finally came out, of course EVERYONE wanted to try it.   Now the question is, “Which one of these services is going to suffer?”

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