There’s been a fair amount of debate among the early adopter crowd lately about the place of syndicated content in relation to Twitter.
The debate has been renewed in light of the general release of Twitter lists, which allow people to create and follow bunches of Twitter users en masse.
Since many people use Twitter to share links to interesting information, Twitter has always been a great source for news and information, essentially crowdsourcing your intertubes reading, much like a feed reader, only with a lot more discovery.
Lists make it even easier to discover interesting content using tweeters as a proxy.
Anyway, two posts recently caught my eye, one by Robert Scoble (@Scobleizer) called “Why I don’t use Google Reader anymore“, the other by Louis Gray (@louisgray) called “Why I Wouldn’t Accept $25k To Stop Using Google Reader“.
There are a couple points munged together in these posts that are worth discussing, as much as anything here is worth discussing.
1) Twitter vs. feeds for information
2) Google Reader’s product direction
I’ll touch on both, even though they’re not obviously related.
Which is better for information, Twitter or feeds?
The short answer here is they’re equally useful, and better together, a conclusion shared by many when asked the question by Dawn Foster (@geekygirldawn) over at WWD. You’ll notice about as many said Twitter had replaced feeds too, so maybe I’m just pumping up my own side.
Part of the problem here is that feeds have never really taken off, and Twitter provides a much less geeky way to get information. Personally, I prefer taking feeds from Twitter and adding them to my existing feeds in Reader, and services like ReadTwit have helped scrape the links out of my tweet stream, essentially beefing up my Reader.
Interestingly, I’m not seeing feeds surfaced for lists, which would really help me. I wonder if this is strategic.
Anyway, guys like Robert and Louis consume factors of ten more information than we mere mortals do, so I can see why they have a preference.
I’m dodging the question though. If I had to choose one or the other method today for information consumption, I’d go with Twitter. Why? Because of the network.
The network has always been Twitter’s ace in the hole. Remember back in bad old days of early 2008 when Twitter’s uptime teetered below 99%, which is pretty sad for a web service, even a free one? There were movements afoot to jump to Plurk and Identi.ca and Jaiku and Pownce.
Heard those names lately? They never took off because Twitter had the network and recreating that was too high a barrier to entry for pretty much everyone. So, we all suffered and hoped for the best.
To Twitter’s credit, they have dramatically improved the uptime of the service.
Even though I really like feeds and continue to believe they are the best kept secret in tech, using Twitter for information is way easier. Cue the segue.
Where is Google Reader going?
Google Reader has been my feed reader of choice for years, and I’ve got a lot invested in it.
It’s funny to read Robert’s and Louis’ posts because they both hint at a problem I have with Reader, new features. Reader has been slowly socializing for a while now, but the most recent additions have me wondering.
I haven’t found much value in the social features, beyond Shared Items, and I have to agree with Robert’s assessment that Reader has become a bit slow due to the new stuff. One huge head-scratcher for me is why there isn’t a public API for Reader data; why build “likes” before that?
Anyway, Reader has deviated from what it does best–fast feed reading with great search. The easy assumption here is that Twitter and Facebook have pushed the Reader team to add social features, but at what cost?
Maybe it’s just me, but I want a feed reader to be a feed reader because I already have a Twitter client for the social stuff. So why not add feed reading features like a proxy setting for feeds inside the firewall or open source the code so it can be installed inside a firewall, since feeds are still the best way to follow information within the firewall.
Or maybe if the strategy is to go social, why not build a Brizzly-esque interface right into Reader? Maybe that could be part of the search deal Google just did with Twitter.
So, two areas of interest here: Twitter vs. feeds for information and why and what’s up with Reader and where should it go?
A bit disjointed, but these two are wrapped up together for me and others.
Find the comments.
Update: The widget actually works inside the firewall, but it takes a while to load.