Social Web

“Held down by algorithms that are like axes”

No matter where I go on the Internet, I feel like I am trapped in the “feed,” held down by algorithms that are like axes trying to make bespoke shirts out of silk.

Source: Om Malik

Useful stuff

Mystified by all the interested in Feedspot

I started noticing a number of emails from people inviting me to use Feedspot. I was curious and took a look at the site. It turns out, this is what Feedspot offers:

Receive daily updates from all your favorite websites in your email inbox
Multiple Newsletters clutter your email inbox. Feedspot combines all in just one digest email.

(Source: Feedspot – A fast, free, modern Rss Reader)

I don’t understand the appeal. I already receive way too much email. The prospect of adding another huge digest email with updates from websites I follow to my crowded inbox makes me feel queasy.

Source: feedly press kit

I’d rather just use a good RSS reader (I use feedly to subscribe to feeds and catch up either using Reeder or feedly’s reader). Why would you want digest emails with website updates when you can just open an RSS reader and catch up with everything there?

Images sourced from Feedspot’s and feedly’s press kits.


Blogs and blogging Social Web

Full feed lament

This is probably going to sound pretty old fashioned but I miss the days when more blogs published full feeds and the exception to that norm was a truncated feed. Back then, in the old days of blogging, publishing full feeds just seemed to be more honest.

When I subscribe to a feed these days and receive a full feed, it feels like a rare honesty in a Web of selfish truncated feeds designed to pull me onto a page with banner ads I ignore. For the most part I only click on those links to reach the main page which I send to Instapaper without much thought about the ads the site owner was hoping I’d click on.

Sure, people should be able to earn a living from their well tended and populated sites but give me an option to still get my full feeds. One model I haven’t seen replicated much (actually, at all) is Ars Technica which charges me less than $5 a month for premium content and, wait for it, full feeds. There are times when I don’t read many of their posts but, when I do visit my feed in my feed reader, I am reminded how grateful I am that I have the option of subscribing for the convenience of full feeds.

Business and work Tutorials Useful stuff

Tip: get your LinkedIn Network updates in your feedreader

I am on a mission to reduce the amount of email I receive each day. I’ve noticed that a significant majority of my daily email comprises updates from various social services (many of which I set not to send me emails). I don’t really see much value in most of that email so I sat down this morning to work through about 25 emails from one day and unsubscribe from as much of it as I can.

One of the emails I receive is a daily email with updates from my LinkedIn network. I am interested in what people in my network are doing but I really don’t want email about it all the time. I was messing around in my settings the one day and noticed a cool option – Network updates by RSS!! I use RSS daily and get most of my news and content through my feeds (I use Feedly either in the Web app or through Reeder on my iOS devices). This appeals to me because it doesn’t clutter my inbox and I can scan through updates when I check my feeds.

Here is how you can enable your Network updates in a feed:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4


Once you have done that, go through all your email settings and edit those email frequency settings to suit your preferences. Here is a handy help article that will explain how to do it. Check through all the options. It will take a little time but it will be worth it!

Blogs and blogging Useful stuff Web/Tech

Google Reader is closing down and taking more of the open Web with it

Google Reader, visually, is awful but its value is not its interface but what it does. Google Reader is the feed synchronisation engine that powers many popular feed readers and enables users like me to follow a variety of terrific blogs. It isn’t the only way to keep up to date on what is happening in the world but it is still a really good way to curate your streams and focus on the stuff you want to see more often.

So why is Google doing this?

There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.

I share Om Malik’s thoughts about these reasons Google gave –

I take issue with Urs’ comments about usage declining. It declined because the company put no resources into the product and took away social features that made it useful for many. It was a project that was orphaned because it didn’t fit into Google’s vision of a machine-driven reading experience. Despite minimal resources devoted to it, Google Reader was one of the better apps built by the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

It is probably my second-most used Google service — after GMail — and I have always been befuddled by Google’s lack of desire to make Google Reader into a bigger reading platform. It could and it still can evolve into a Flipboard type service, but that would mean that Google would have to put resources and some real creative thought into Reader.

I’ve been using Feedly and Flipboard as my interface for Google Reader and they are far better than the native Google Reader interface. That doesn’t mean that Google Reader isn’t important to me and to how I keep up to speed on what is going on in the spaces I have an interest in. As Scoble pointed out, this is a real blow to the open Web and, to me, indicates that Google is just as interested in expanding its corner of the Web more than it is about encouraging a truly open Web. It may be that Google has just decided that fighting Twitter’s and Facebook’s inclination to develop more closed communities and infrastructures isn’t worth it and it may also be Google’s decision that there is simply more money to be made channeling users into the broader Google+ ecosystem. Either way, users are not the winners here, regardless of how you may feel about venerable RSS.

Thankfully, Feedly is working on an alternative and is positioning itself to fill Google Reader’s vacuum. It doesn’t address Dave Winer’s concerns about a company holding the keys to our consumption kingdoms but it does offer a smooth transition option. In the meantime, also take a look at the Data Liberation Front’s page with guidance for exporting your Google Reader data.

I pulled together a few links and stories which you may find useful in a Storify, below:

[View the story “Google Reader is closing down” on Storify]

Google Reader is closing down

Google announced it is shutting Google Reader down. It caught many people by surprise and it points to a worrying trend on the Web.

Storified by Paul Jacobson· Wed, Mar 13 2013 23:41:43

The announcement from Google.
Official Google Reader Blog: Powering Down Google ReaderPosted by Alan Green, Software Engineer We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Reader (the ac…
Transitioning from Google Reader to feedlyGoogle announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting from some time: We have be…
Nick Bradbury: The End of FeedDemonThis is a hard post for me to write. I’ve used FeedDemon every day since I created it back in 2003 – it’s part of my daily workflow, the first thing I turn to after pouring myself a cup of coffee in the morning.
If you are lamenting the loss of Google Reader, do take a minute to thank @cw @mihai @shellen & the many others who brought it to us.Anil Dash
Sad to see Google Reader go. I know many apps added @Readability APIs (see ) expecting this, but still a shame.Anil Dash
Google puts a stake through the heart of RSS. That is so wrong, Google. It is a technology of openness. Protest! Jarvis
Google To Close Google Reader On July 1Google Reader user? Say goodbye. Google has announced the service is closing: We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.
Google kills Google Reader, will go offline on July 1, 2013Google is doing second round of spring cleaning – euphemism for small projects it finds unworthy of its time and efforts – and is killing…
Wow. Google is closing Google Reader. Truth is I don’t use RSS anymore but I know lots who do. What killed this? Flipboard and Facebook for me. Prismatic too. The trend line was there: we are moving our reading behavior onto the social web. Normal people didn’t take to subscribing to RSS feeds. Heck, it’s hard enough to get them to subscribe to tweet feeds. <br> But this is sad. Particularly shows the open web continues to be under attack. We have to come into the walled gardens of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn to read and share. Here’s a problem: a few of my friends have deleted their Facebook accounts. Dave Winer and Ryan Block, to name two famous examples.<br> <br> So they will never see my words here. The open web is going away and this is another example of how.
Thread: Goodbye Google ReaderAnd besides, I didn’t think the mailbox approach to news was right. Who cares how many unread items there are. I like the river of news a…