Category Archives: news

A forced change to my information diet

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I just un-pinned and closed my Google Reader tab in Chrome.  From the day it started in 2005, Reader became my indisputable, reliable source for the rather intensive volume of information I consume daily.

Today there’s a void in my process.  I’ve yet to find a true replacement though I’ve tested what I believe is all of the contenders and really have yet to find anything that’s quite ready to be called the new champion.  For me Google Reader, was all about efficiency.  It was ridiculously quick, worked across all my screens without a sync process (thank you web) and provided an unending stream of information.  Over the years my process evolved from a structured view with folders into a more simple river of news approach.  While I started viewing things by topic I found that simply going to “view all” led to a much richer flow and tended to reveal some rather serendipitous finds.

Today, I’m still bouncing through Digg Reader, AOL, Reader, Feedly, Feedbin, Ridly, FeedRebel, NewsBlur, Feedspot, The Old Reader and while some have some redeeming qualities, I definitely miss Reader.  Over the years I’ve supplemented my Reader usage with some sharp daily email newsletters, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ … These sources remain just that, supplements.  Unfortunately, the main source is still a work in progress.

While Feedly retains perhaps the truest view of how my Reader was structured just feels heavy by comparison with a focus on making things pretty over the core usage.  They’ve made rapid progress since the Reader announcement and we’ll hopefully see some continued progress.  Digg and AOL have made remarkable strides in an even shorter timeframe and I’m hoping Digg develops the right solution.  Digg is clean and works quickly, but still needs some key things like viewing just unread items (seriously), a much quicker feed update, better sort and search.  I also really like the social end, integration with Pocket and am enjoying the Digg revival.  AOL is also pretty clean and quick and does support search … Apparently the API is ready to roll as well.

On mobile which is a primary use case for me given my commute I’m working through a few different things … I don’t like the Feedly mobile client at all so I’m using it’s sync backend with Reader HD on Android, but also dabbling with Age of Mobility’s Ridly app which is basically the same thing with a different backend.  Their web version needs some work, but they could potentially evolve as the fuller solution.

Until there’s a real replacement for my evolving habits I’ve got more work and testing ahead …

Umano Reads the News to You

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Umano got a bit of attention last night as an Android version was just released. I gave it a try today and have a bit of a mixed impression. Umano reads you the news. Unlike other apps or services, the voices are real and there’s actually a sense of intent in what’s being said. Other things I’ve seen tend to be robotic so this is a nice change. There’s a nice list of news stories to choose from and it looks like you will be able to discover interesting content you want to add into your queue.

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Where Umano falls short however is that it’s just reading the site content. I guess that would be interesting at times when you need to be looking elsewhere, but its much slower than I can read the page myself. I’ve had some connectivity issues as well and my place was not saved adding to the time required for a particular piece. Seems like there is potential here … I’ll have to see if I can find a place in my routine.

What would Facebook hope to get from Twitter?

Techcrunch is reporting on Twitter’s decision to pass on an acquisition by Facebook and a lot of people are tracking this like a major news story.  I think it’s just the continuation of the hype machine.

I’m not the biggest fan of Twitter … I consider it interesting, yet frustrating given their sheer lack of concern for actual conversation.  While it’s been able to attract a core early adopter set and the blogger “A-List” it’s way too challenging for a mass market audience to use.  In the time since it’s launch we’ve seen the release of an API which has certainly made posting and tracking simpler, but since there’s neither threading nor notification alerts it’s quite easy to just miss a reply if you happen to look away. 

Facebook on the other hand recently redesigned their service with a focus on status updates and seems to have eclipsed the intent of Twitter with a far richer experience.  I’ve found the facebook threading and alerts to be excellent and as a result have actually found myself in Facebook far more often than I was previously.  Granted there is no public timeline in Facebook and discovering new people of interest is much harder since it tends to happen through the friend of a friend mechanism.  

Facebook has a considerably greater audience globally, an excellent mobile experience and a foundation based on sharing between friends.  Twitter has remained a glorified IRC chat room where everyone shouts and you are out of the flow if you stop paying direct attention for a few minutes.  

 

The Facebook userbase almost certainly includes most of the Twitter base so what’s really to acquire here?  The brand perhaps … I suppose there’s credibility there and the alleged offer of $500 Million even as Facebook stock has to be quite flattering.  That said, it is stock not cash and there’s certainly no certainty playing that game these days.