social

I’m cheating on RSS.

I usually favor decentralized, open technologies, but I must confess: I almost never check my RSS subscriptions any more.

I used to use RSS as a one-stop way to cut down on my endless cycle of refreshing a million different blogs for news. Now, the opposite has happened: a couple of news sources are so much better in quality than the rest. I get my general news through the New York Times, and my tech news comes through The Verge or Ars Technica. These guys are beating everyone else at news depth and analysis, making most other blogs in their field redundant.

There’s a lot I risk missing online by doing this. But instead of drowning in an endless feed of RSS updates, I’ve curated a couple of social sharing tools to give me a pulse for the rest of the Web: Reddit (I unsubscribe from most of the default subreddits and subscribe to quality niche ones) and Twitter (again, being picky about quality sources.) I’d like to see Google+ take off in this role, but Google still needs to improve their API enough for killer apps to take advantage of it.

This new way of consuming content online is an unexpected one for me. I usually prefer more open, decentralized stuff, and RSS is the poster-child for such a thing. But as a constant news stream, it just doesn’t do enough to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. It’s still very useful and necessary, since it can syndicate a lot more useful information than just the news articles I’m talking about. Even though I sacrifice some openness, I find crowdsourced social aggregators far more useful, especially when I have some curation controls to personalize what I’m getting.

Sorry, RSS. You have a lot to offer as a technology, but my life is easier having left you.

I missed this last week: PicPlz is barely live as a service, and it’s already been spun off in a cash deal so its makers can be done with it.

These little mobile apps combine convenience with effortless social interaction, but the final loyalty isn’t to the user. I’m hoping that the social sharing experience for stuff like this becomes less dependent on proprietary services that try to own the social interaction. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to find more effective ways of recreating these rich experiences on platforms that let me own and control my content.