Are Feed Readers Dead?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

An interesting discussion (via Daring Fireball) regarding a new alternative to Google Reader called Fever. From what I can gather it seems to be a very polished and personalised version of Techmeme - a fantastic site that, at it’s core, uses algorithms based on link behaviour to determine the hotest topics.

In the post Alex talks about how feed readers are dead and how we shouldn’t be spending so much time in them. I agree that we could all cut down on our subscriptions but I don’t see the feed reader as a dead and useless product. Aggregators are fantastic and allow you to uncover and be exposed to all sorts of news, information and opinion.

I recently challenged myself to cut down on my daily intake of feeds. I found that by killing some heavily bloated feeds and carefully filtering others that I regained control over Google Reader. I haven’t seen the dreaded 1000+ items unread since I did it several months ago.

And that’s the key. It’s not that readers are useless or devoid of useful information it’s just they don’t help us manage the information flow. I used a few basic Yahoo Pipes and subscribed to lower volume feeds to do this and there is no reason why that couldn’t have been included as part of the aggregator itself. Google could do a far better job of filtering than I could and I wish they would expand the product in that direction instead of making it more social.

Everyone is coming at the problem from this strange angle that everything needs to be realtime and you should only be shown the hottest posts when all we really need are better, more intelligent tools to filter the noise out.

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