Sunday, 30 August 2009

Why the RSS river of news drowns Facebook and Google Reader

My Facebook page has had a serious clear out. I junked my Twitter feed, Friendfeed and Mento links (along with a host of other stuff that I never liked or really wanted but which I acquired every time a friend sent me something).
The reason was simple: whenever I logged on I was faced with an overdose of my tweets, Friendfeed rss, bookmarks, notes and more.

As an individual user, I don't much like Facebook. I don't want to be sent kittens, issued with challenges or quizzed, and I prefer sites where I don't have to decide whether to fend off Zombie attacks. I like FB status updates, but that's about it. I use, as opposed to visit, Twitter, Plurk, Flickr and Delicious, all the time. Wired Journalists, Dipity,, Spotify and Blip, and Good Reads are coming up on the rails.

So, on a personal level, Facebook as an aggregator is a turn-off for me but it's not alone; my Google Reader has also undergone a wholesale clearout. I realised the best way I found new blogs and websites was through Twitter - I sometimes subscribe to hashtag themes in my Reader so I can follow a debate, but Friendfeed works just as well. And it's a lot less time-consuming to dip in and out of a hashtag search than see there are 1200 unread items in my reader. Mashable, for example, has been binned and replaced with an rss of @Mashable's tweets - faster to skim through, no adverts - and it saves me clogging my Twitter feed.

I talked at TEDx Liverpool about journalists now having a river of information available to them through social media; I later learned the River of News analogy was well-established in regards to RSS . Google has also been thinking about this RSS news river and the need for more social opportunities in our Reader, I guess, because it's now added 'comments' and 'power reader' recommends to its options (click to enlarge the image):

I'm not really interested in the comments (they tend to be of the 'great post, Jon!' variety) and although I click on the '1 person liked this' links sometimes - I found this interesting post on the subject through six degrees of separation from the 'like' option - I don't want to know what's in a power user's Reader.
If I'm not following them on Twitter or Friendfeed someone who does will no doubt be retweeting them or linking to a post. And if they don't, does it really matter? It's not like I need to know everything that's new or news. And what I think is important might be trivia to someone else.

* River photo by talaakso
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