A forced change to my information diet


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


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.


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.

Nokia Sportstracker Mobile Mapping

Sportstracker mobile mapping

Thanks to Jaiku and GerryMoth I just learned about a new release of Sportstracker which offers a real map of your location as you track your progress.  Previous versions showed a visual progress, but based on coordinates rather than a real map.  i believe this is the first integration of Navteq data outside the Maps application and it is working really well.

Enjoying the Digital Olympics

If you live in the US, the NBC Olympics site is really an excellent way to keep tabs on athletes and events. I can’t quite figure out how they determine what makes it to the site in video vs text, but the coverage has been excellent for the major events. I re-lived last night’s amazing 400 Free Relay this morning and plan to watch quite a few more events this way as the week progresses.

If you are on the go, Mippin, has created an excellent mobile aggregator of all the Olympic information. It’s really a great showcase of what they do and delivers a very useful tool for the Olympics as well.

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Personal Broadcasting – Rocking the System

In my experience the ability to begin broadcasting, inform your friends and maintain a dialog is both incredibly social but amazingly powerful! I’ve been dabbling with Qik and Flixwagon and this area of mobile development is simply fantastic. When I covered the Web2 Summit last fall, my coverage was limited to 1 min videos (the file size limit from Shozu) and they had to upload afterwards. It was hardly slow, but there were a few steps involved to publish and I could not interactive with the audience in real time – taking questions or monitoring comments.

The game has completely changed now. Both Qik and Flixwagon offer live streaming in a few clicks … open the app, stream. In case you missed it, Flixwagon worked with MTV to cover yesterday’s Super Tuesday event. The World Economic Forum in Davos featured videos from Scoble, Loic Le Meur and others. Next week you’ll be seeing a lot of video from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which I’ll be attending and streaming!

Thanks Stefan!

NYT’s New HQ

NYT Lobby

I’ve been checking out the NYT’s new HQ on my daily commute and was finally able to get inside to see how things are progressing. The building has been under some sort of construction for quite a while now and looks like it’s getting close to completion. The outside is a very modern looking structure and the inside is really very sleek. There’s an appropriately named video sculpture called “Moveable Type” which displays current content from the paper.

Here’s a quick video I captured from my phone… An evening outside shot follows.

New York Times

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Google Earth – Darfur

If you’ve wanted to know more about what’s happening in Darfur, Sudan, allow me to suggest you download the AAAS Darfur layers for Google Earth. Amnesty International and the US Holocaust Memorial have collaborated to provide rich multimedia coverage of the area to cover the latest attacks as well as provide coverage of what’s already happened in the area.

I suppose I should also mention that the Sudan has now banned Google Earth as a result of this project!


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Yahoo! News – You Witness

Yahoo and Reuters are launching YouWitness tomorrow and it should be interesting to see how it pans out. This looks like it will be a pretty high profile move into crowdsourcing with two substantial partners. I hope Yahoo and Reuters integrate this with their main news sections rather than simply creating yet another island of information within the peanut butter jar.

User generated content may start finding itself in new places as well as the NYT is a pretty large consumer of Reuters feeds and the critical mass at Yahoo might be just what the doctor ordered to pepper in new context to breaking stories.

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How to kill newspapers in one easy lesson

BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » How to kill newspapers in one easy lesson

Jeff Jarvis points to what has to be the worst idea I’ve ever seen by an old media thinker… especially given we are way past mass-adoption of the internet… essentially, the genius at the SF Chronical is thinking it’d be great to develop an embargo to prevent online from running stories to give the newspapers a fair fight.

Too bad we can get information from all kinds of new sources these days…

All the news that’s fit for whatever you want and wherever you are

The term hyper-local has been getting a great deal of use lately in describing the ever-changing Newspaper (and news reporting in general) landscape. As papers begin to realize that they are news organizations not limited to just printing a single edition a day their existing credibility opens the doors to a very deep relationship with their reader communities. The use of digital enables a fantastic loop for a paper to break a story via web or mobile and feed back a reported story to the next days or evenings paper. In each community, coverage can go very deep on topics of great interest to the local readers so things like crime, politics, sports and retail can all be deeper than the usual scan they might get from a printed paper who needs to limit the printed word for cost keeping.

The latest move by Gannett as reported in Wired is very significant for a few key reasons… For Starters USA Today is the nations largest paper. If you add in a layer of hyper-local coverage they become a force to be reckoned with in areas whose paper’s have yet to embrace what can be done electronically.

The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.[Wired News]

Gannett has already been testing this new model fully in a few markets and the results are very positive:

What they found is remarkable: Breaking news on the Web and updating for the newspaper draws more people to both those media. Asking the community for help, gets it – and delivers the newspaper into the heart of community conversations once again. Rich and deep databases with local, local information gathered efficiently are central to the whole process. The changes impact all media, and the public has approved. Results include stronger newspapers, more popular Web sites and more opportunities to attract the customers advertisers want.[Crowdsourcing]

Given their size, Gannett can compete across many markets simultaneously and offer communities a complete news view from hyper-local through international…

Big papers like the The New York Times are not standing by while this trend grows and in fact have their own high tech multimedia reporting desk being built out now:

The booming expansion of multimedia at The New York Times was a big driver behind the network infrastructure going into the new facility. The Times, over the last several years, has been trying to shake the “gray lady” image with aggressive use of online and multimedia features, such as multimedia packages and video segments from reporters, chat rooms and blogs. That means Times staff does more than just write and edit text articles for the paper-and-ink product.

To this end, every desktop in the newsroom will feature a full Gigabit Ethernet link as well as an IP phone, integrated voice mail/e-mail and an Internet chat, all rolled into one with Nortel’s CallPilot unified messaging product. Instant “click-to-dial” audio conferencing and presence capabilities will also be available for the Times staff, Kraft says.

“We wanted to create a multimedia environment for each worker,” Kraft says. “If they need to do anything with voice or video or multimedia, it can all be done” from the desktop. Since each PC will have a USB camera and microphone, Kraft anticipates more video conferencing will take place, was well as recording of short podcast and video podcast segments by reporters for the NYTimes.com site.

Among the background clatter in the Times’ current newsroom are several televisions, constantly tuned to breaking-news channels, such as CNN or FOX. The new Times newsroom will have fewer televisions but more options available for the staff, as 10 channels of IP television will be available to every desktop in the company. The IPTV streams will be delivered via Time Warner Cable.

“We will be one of first customers in New York for” IPTV from Time Warner, Kraft says. “We’re helping them develop that service.”

The IPTV streams will let editors and reporters view content more relevant to their sections or beats, Kraft says; business writers can view CNBC or MSNBC; sports scribes can peek at scores from ESPN News while writing and editing. (The Times had no comment about what effect TV-to-the-desktop will have on reporters meeting deadlines for filing stories.) [Network World]

One thing is clear – the news reporting business is very competitive and traditional papers need to evolve to compete for both the timeliness and depth of coverage across all the facets of the consumers lives. The newspaper seems to have an edge against TV reporting based on their existing associating with consumers and their ability to deliver multiple channels of news across a variety of media. TV and Radio guys are actually starting behind, with the exception of CNN – but they really only focus on national and international news. The local and metro markets – those which impact us all on a daily basis are hotbeds for the future of competitive news.

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Netsape reborn as a Digg-type news site

So Jason Calacanis (Weblogs Inc) has been hard at work on a stealth project within AOL which rears it’s head today as Netscape Beta. It’s essentially DIgg, plus editors, but for much more than simply tech news. It looks interesting… I am not sure that I’ll be that intrigued to use it more than today to be honest – I mean there are already way too many news sources. If nothing else, I’ll probably add some RSS feeds once I explore a bit more.

Digg is actually supposed to be launching it’s new site for all news next week and Vallywag has screenshots.

If you like community driven editor supported news there’s also Newsvine.

Quite a bit happening in this space… Digg appears to be the leader, but personally I think Newsvine is the most interesting for now – I’m sure Digg is up to the challenge.

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Digg gets financed

Congrats to Kevin Rose and team!  I really like the Diggnation pod / vid cast and enjoy using the site as well.  I’d describe it as Slashdot 2.0 (ala Web 2.0), and you’ll find a good mix of stories – though mainly tech.

Digg, a new San Francisco Internet start-up, seeks to rank news items by letting people choose which stories they like anywhere on the Web.And it just received $2.8 million in venture capital from some big-name investors, including Omidyar Network, the outfit led by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, and Greylock partners.

MercuryNews.com | 10/28/2005 | Tagging the news you want to use

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