rss – Stay N Alive

The Death of Google Reader: Did Email Kill the RSS Star?

Alas, the day has come. We knew it was coming and we were all just digging in our heels waiting for the day. I admit I’m not as mad as before, as the dust has settled off since they killed sharing and replaced it with a very limited Google+ sharing feature (on top of the “send to” feature that was there before). At the same time we see other “social networks” of Google’s (Youtube) hitting over a billion active users. Compared to that, Google Reader was minuscule.

With all that though, there’s no doubt to those of us, the most devoted and perhaps heaviest users of Google Reader (I saw some stats that I promised not to share that suggested before Google Reader killed sharing I had some of the highest numbers of shares on the site), will miss the service. Like, a lot. So much that you see all of us bloggers that depended on its superior interface (which works best in Ninja Mode, btw) screaming from the house tops like little children. Many are even screaming that the death of Google Reader is the death of RSS and the beginning (or end?) of the death of “open”. Truthfully, there is nothing else out there like it and most of us don’t know what we’re going to do.

With all that I can’t help but wonder if the paradigm has just shifted. Users have spoken. While RSS is great for B2B applications of sharing information and likely won’t go away, from a consumer perspective I think email has won this battle. If your site, which previously had a “subscribe via RSS” button on it doesn’t also have a “subscribe by email” button, it probably should. It is evident to me that while many are searching for a new RSS reader that the answer for many trying to guarantee delivery of content will actually be email. In many ways Google Reader is forcing many of us to simplify.

The advantage RSS gave us is that for every site that implemented it it gave more than just a way for Google Reader users to subscribe and get updates one-by-one with their “j” and “k” buttons on their keyboards. It gave every user on the web a way to consumer information any way they wanted. And for that, I’m sad. Google Reader was the last straw, supported by a great brand that made it official.

As much as I hate it, I’m afraid we’re headed towards the death of open ways to consume information. Every website is being forced to create their own APIs for accessing information, and there is now no good reason to use a common standard as simple as RSS to allow consumers to consume information on your site.

There will be a day when we all look back and remember “the roaring 90s/00s” where anyone could consume any data they wanted on the web. The problem is businesses found easier ways to make money and RSS never found a way to fight back.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope RSS makes a come-back. If not, I hope some other standard comes available that makes the web a more open and connected place again. I hope big businesses like Google and Facebook and Microsoft will fight for that and provide solutions to make these things more widely available. Thus far they have let me down though.

With the death of Google Reader, a little piece of me dies. But with it, another open standard, email, replaces its stead. My hope is that even while RSS is not as important as it used to be, we continue to see businesses and organizations and websites and mobile apps provide means to allow consumers to consume information, at a minimum, through the open standard of email.

Until then, I’m going down with the ship. I’m not giving up, and we’ll find a solution that fixes this big mess we’re in right now.

How to Replace Your RSS Feed Automatically With Facebook’s Like Button

As I seek to make this blog more and more a part of the social networks you participate in (I call this “From Fishers to Farmers” – something I speak about in my talks), I’ll be documenting my progress along the way. I just showed how I’m doing this with Facebook’s Frictionless Sharing on this blog (just click through to the blog, and click the link over on the right to start adding these posts to your timeline). There’s one more piece though which I think is dwindling. Some call this the “RSS is Dead” argument. I actually talked about the RSS Subscription problem here. What’s happening is the subscribers to RSS feeds such as the one on this site, through analytics sites such as Feedburner, are either slowing or diminishing.

This process is natural as more and more people receive their news on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and away from sites such as Google Reader or traditional RSS Readers. Those tools simply aren’t social, and much less interesting than a typical social network. Therefore I argue content owners need to be looking towards more social ways of distributing their content. I’m doing this specifically on Facebook with an app called RSS Graffiti.

Enter RSS Graffiti and Facebook Open Graph

RSS Graffiti is a Facebook app (it also integrates with Twitter) that will apply any RSS Feed to a Facebook Page you specify (see why I say RSS isn’t dead?). The cool thing about it is on Facebook I can make any website a Facebook Page.

On this blog, if you view the source, do a search for “og:url”. This, and a series of other meta tags (og:site_name, og:description, and og:image, as well as fb:admins are all useful for this) tell Facebook that this URL is also a Facebook Page. To register it with Facebook, just make sure the “fb:admins” tag is in place and lists the id of your Facebook Profile as the value, and go to to register your URL.

Once you do this, your Blog is now a Facebook Page as far as Facebook is concerned. Now all you have to do is add a Like Button Social Plugin to your website as you see at the top of this site above, and people can “like” your website! Seriously – click through to this blog and go click “like” at the top!

Here’s where it gets cool though – now that I’m listed as an admin of that URL, I can send posts to the fans of that URL. Every person that clicks “like” above I can send my articles to. It’s the same as subscribing, but much more social!

How to Create Your Own Social Distribution Channel Using Facebook and Open Graph

Here’s what you need to do to make this happen:

  1. Add the following HTML within the tags on your website or blog – fill in the “content” sections with the appropriate values for your site or blog:

  2. Go to and click “Insights for Your Website” (the green button in the upper-right) – enter the domain you specified from the “og:url” meta tag above, and click on the “Get Insights” button. Your site is now registered (and you can go back here to see stats around your domain!).
  3. Now go to and find your website on the left (it will be under the name you specified in “site_name” above). Go there, and add your site’s RSS Feed. Save it, and it will automatically start posting content to your Facebook Page for every post you make! 
  4. Now you just need some subscribers. You’ll do this with a Facebook Like button, just like you see at the top of this blog. Go to – click the “Like Button” link. Now, just fill out the form – be sure to add the URL you specified in the “og:url” tag above! Click the “get code” button, and now copy and paste that code where you want your like button to go!
If you perform the above steps you should have everything you need to allow your site’s visitors to subscribe to your site through a simple Facebook “like”. Now, when they click “like”, not only do they subscribe to your site, but their friends see it too!
If you want to take this further, you can add the above tags to the other pages on your site, with an og:title tag to specify the title of articles. This will allow you to customize how Facebook sees each article on your site as it shares it out to the fans of your website. If you want to get more specific, be sure to see the documentation of the OpenGraph Protocol over here.
What about Google+ or Twitter? As I mentioned, RSS Graffiti supports Twitter, so you should be taken care of there if you wanted to add a “Follow” button at the top of your website. However, there’s nothing for Google+ at the moment. I think Google would really benefit from either allowing apps to publish to at least Google+ Pages so apps like RSS Graffiti could do something similar with the +1 button. Google+ currently allows you to tie +1 buttons (through Page “Badges”) to Google+ Pages, and if they just allowed apps to publish to Pages you could theoretically do the same with Google+. Maybe if they allow that I’ll post how to do that here as well.

Facebook Listens. RSS Added Back to Pages. Will Twitter be next?

In perhaps one of my most controversial articles (unintentionally), I wrote a week or two ago about how both Twitter and Facebook both quietly removed RSS from user accounts and Pages. Of course, with Facebook, on user accounts that made sense since they were intended to be private, but with Pages, 100% public versions of the site, it didn’t make sense that they would remove the links and access to be able to subscribe to updates via RSS. It appears that Facebook listened though, as there is now a “Subscribe via RSS” link on Facebook Pages, and the source now links to an atom feed for clients that want to auto-discover the feeds. You can see it by looking down at the bottom left on any Page now.

David Recordon, Senior Open Programs Manager at Facebook, mentioned in the comments of my previous article“I actually think you’re misinterpreting the reasoning here. Today JSON based APIs are quite a bit more powerful than RSS feeds and have become preferred by the vast majority of developers when building on the platforms you mentioned. This means that it’s worth investing more time and energy into APIs over feeds. So I don’t think it’s that anyone is looking to actively remove feeds, rather they’re just stagnating over time as more functionality is built into APIs.” Of course, he had a point. It was also something I mentioned in my previous article, that sites are moving more and more towards proprietary JSON APIs vs openly available and reproducible RSS. The problem is API or not, Facebook’s Graph API (not to be confused with Open Graph Protocol) is still closed – until they open that up as a standard, it will not be easily accessible across clients and content consumption programs.

It’s really good, that on top of their existing (and really easy to use) Graph API, to see Facebook move towards something that not just developers can easily consume, but any user can also consume and do things with in a simple fashion. Until (and if) Facebook opens up its own API, this is the right approach to take, and they should be commended.

There is a glimmer of hope with this move by Facebook. Of course RSS isn’t dead, but my worry is that as we see Twitter and others slowly removing remnants of the protocol one bit at a time, these open standards may be swallowed up in favor of more proprietary APIs and formats. I’m really proud of Facebook taking a lead here in open standards adoption as they have done in the past – let’s hope they continue to do so in the future.

The question now is, in this regard, does this make Facebook more open than Twitter? (I argue Facebook has always been more open than Twitter in various capacities, but in this regard, I think it says something about Facebook’s motivations vs. Twitter’s) I’d really like to see Twitter follow suite and reconsider their stance on removing RSS moving forward.

Twitter and Facebook Both Quietly Kill RSS, Completely

Last year I shared how Twitter was moving more and more towards a closed, less-standards oriented model of sharing content as they upgraded their design to bring more people to the website. At that time, they removed the prominent RSS icons and made it only possible to access an RSS feed for an individual by logging completely out of Twitter, and visiting that individual’s profile page. After reading my post, Isaac Hepworth, a developer for Twitter, tried to comfort me in a response to my post on Buzz, saying:

“I’ve been talking to people internally to work out what happened here so that I could untangle it properly.
Here’s the scoop: the RSS itself is still there (as Jesse’s roundabout method for finding it shows). Two things were removed in #NewTwitter:
1. The hyperlink to the RSS on the profile page; and
2. The link to the RSS in the profile page metadata (ie. the element in the ).
(2) was wholly accidental, and we’ll fix that. In the meantime, Jesse’s way of finding the RSS is as good as any, and you can still subscribe to user timelines in products like Google Reader by just adding a subscription to the profile URL, eg.
(1) on the other hand was deliberate, in line with the “keep Twitter simple” principle which we used to approach the product as a whole. Identifying RSS for a page and exposing it to users per their preferences is a job which most browsers now do well on their own based on s.
Hope that helps!”

Unfortunately, it seems #2 was not accidental, as it was never fixed. Now #1 is also removed as far as I can see (and looking at the HTML source I see no evidence of any RSS feed). It seems Twitter has completely removed the ability to consume their feeds via the open standard of RSS in favor of their more proprietary API formats.

At the same time, Facebook seems to have done the same. Facebook has gone back and forth on this though so it is no surprise on their part. They started with an RSS link you could subscribe to on profiles (this for awhile was how you added your feed to FriendFeed), but didn’t seem to have similar for Pages. Later, in a Profile redesign they completely removed the RSS link for profiles. Then, in a recent Page redesign, they added the ability to subscribe to Pages via RSS. I know because I had several Pages added to Google Reader, and I remember fishing through the HTML source and seeing the RSS link in the code. It would seem that Facebook has again removed the ability to subscribe via RSS on Pages, completely removing any ability to subscribe via RSS on the site (also in favor of their proprietary Graph API).

People have been speculating, “RSS is dead” for some time now. I’ve written that RSS isn’t dead, but the concept of “subscribing” is. However, as more and more sites move away from RSS, quite literally, in favor of these proprietary APIs I fear RSS could in fact be dying, not only as a subscription interface, but as a protocol in general.

My hope is that both of these sites overlooked keeping RSS subscription in place as they upgraded their interfaces. But seeing as I’m the only one who noticed, I have a feeling they have little reason to re-add the open protocol back into their interface. Personally, I think it’s a shame, as it makes it so only developers like myself can code anything to extract that data – the average user has no way of pulling that data out of Twitter or Facebook.

It seems in 2011 and the era of Facebook and Twitter we’ve completely lost any care for open standards. Maybe it’s not just RSS that is dying – it’s the entire premise of open standards that is dying, and I think that’s really sad, and really bad for not just developers, but users in general.

Am I missing something here? Where can I subscribe, via RSS, to Facebook or Twitter?

UPDATE: Dave Stevens shared a hack around this in the comments that you can use with the Twitter API. It’s not readily available to users, and based on Twitter’s current trend, could go away, but it works for now:

“Can can access RSS through the twitter API, if you read the documentation you are able to choose rss/atom for the feed options in some of the cases; for example:
is my home timeline in rss format. So although they may have removed links from the pages there is still a method to get at it. (

UPDATE 2: In case you were wondering about Twitter’s attitude towards RSS, read this Help article in their Help section titled, “How to Find Your RSS Feed“:

“Twitter recently stopped supporting basic authentication over RSS in favor of OAuth, an authentication method that lets you use applications without giving them your password. You can read more about the change here: 

Because of this change, we no longer directly support RSS feeds on Twitter. 

  • If you would like to continue using RSS feeds from Twitter accounts, we recommend using a 3rd-party service.
  • Or, if you are comfortable with coding, use our developer resources to retrieve statuses.

With the New Design, Twitter Kills RSS, Literally

The blogosphere is abuzz lately about the latest trend: “RSS is Dead,” everyone says.  Other blogs say “RSS isn’t dead.” (of which side I tend to agree with).  The debate lies with the fact that more and more people are starting to use Twitter, Twitter lists, Facebook, and other social means to just get the news from the streams they follow on these sites rather than typical RSS Readers like Google Reader.  For instance, even on my own Google Reader shares, you can get them right on my @jesseslinks Twitter stream if you don’t ever want to touch Google Reader (yet I’m still using Google Reader to provide those to you).  Whatever side you agree with, I just discovered one thing we’ll all be able to agree with: at least on its own site in the new design, Twitter has quite literally killed RSS.  Into thin air it’s gone in the new UI.

I talked previously about Twitter increasingly becoming less and less open and more and more a walled garden.  Facebook itself just added RSS to its feeds for Facebook Pages and opened its database so you can reformat their content, so long as users approve, in any way you like.  It appears, as no surprise, Twitter is moving in the opposite direction.  In the new design I can’t find an RSS feed anywhere.  Previously there was a link to the lower-right allowing you to add an RSS feed.  They also had a link to the RSS in the source of the HTML so your browser would automatically recognize the feed, and just entering the URL for the user profile into Google Reader, they could automatically detect the feed for you.

Currently the only way to find an RSS feed is to log out and visit the profile of the user when you’re not logged into Twitter.  This might also be why Google Reader still recognizes feeds when you enter user profile URLs in the “Add Subscription” box.  Firefox doesn’t recognize the feed when I’m logged in – it does when I’m not.  It does make you wonder how long the RSS feed will be in the unauthenticated version.

It’s hard to tell if this is intentional or not, but we do know Twitter wants to be a source for news.  Perhaps they think this is in their best interest – the harder they make it for you to read your news elsewhere, the more likely you are to come to to read your news from your friends.  One thing is for sure however – the new Twitter design is certainly less open than it was before.  Twitter, especially with the new design, is now a walled garden.

I’ve contacted Twitter about this and will update here with any response.

UPDATE: For some reason Twitter’s PR never responded.  However, even better, Isaac Hepworth, a developer from Twitter, responded on Buzz, inferring some of it was a mistake, while some of it was intentional to make things simpler:

“Hey Ade, thanks for the cc and sorry for the delay jumping in. I’ve been talking to people internally to work out what happened here so that I could untangle it properly.

Here’s the scoop: the RSS itself is still there (as Jesse’s roundabout method for finding it shows). Two things were removed in #NewTwitter:
1. The hyperlink to the RSS on the profile page; and
2. The link to the RSS in the profile page metadata (ie. the element in the ).

(2) was wholly accidental, and we’ll fix that. In the meantime, Jesse’s way of finding the RSS is as good as any, and you can still subscribe to user timelines in products like Google Reader by just adding a subscription to the profile URL, eg.

(1) on the other hand was deliberate, in line with the “keep Twitter simple” principle which we used to approach the product as a whole. Identifying RSS for a page and exposing it to users per their preferences is a job which most browsers now do well on their own based on s.

Hope that helps!”

Google Reader is Behind the Times – Here is What They Can Do to Fix That

As anyone who knows me can attest, I’m a huge Google Reader user and fan.  Despite users like Robert Scoble and others declaring RSS Readers dead, I still find utility from being able to finely adapt my reading experience by selecting what I want to subscribe to on the web.  As a blogger, it’s one of my greatest weapons – in fact, sites don’t even have to have an RSS feed for me to track their changes.  For instance, let’s say I want to track job announcements at a certain website to know when new features are coming based on the new jobs they’re hiring for. All I have to do is enter the jobs page into Google Reader and it will automatically tell me when it notices new changes on that Page. No coding necessary.

However, while I disagree that RSS is dead, I am worried that News Readers like Google Reader have neglected to stay up with modern news gathering trends.  Perhaps they think remaining simple will win, but frankly, using just RSS and friends suggestions from RSS to find the news just doesn’t cut it any more.  This is why you see Readers like FlipBoard and FLUD and Pulse making a big inroads on devices like the iPad.  They’re ignoring Google Reader and going straight to social networks like Twitter and Facebook, where the news is likely to come from your close friends and family.  I’m concerned Google Reader is taking so long to adapt towards this trend – here are some tips that I think would make it a much better, and more modern service:

Embrace the Dark Side

With the exception of Youtube, Google seems to have a real issue with this.  They seem afraid to embrace their competitors, the sites that currently have the edge, and the sites that their users are most likely using.  Let’s face it – currently the majority of web users are getting their news from their friends on sites like Facebook and Twitter.  They’re not going from site to site, plugging in an RSS feed to Google Reader, and reading it that way.  I’ve tried to show both my wife and my 10 year old daughter how to do this and they just don’t get it.  Even more experienced users who used to be power users of Google Reader like Robert Scoble are moving in this direction.

There’s a minefield of explosive links out there in public on Twitter and Facebook.  Slap a social graph on top of that and you now have extremely relevant links you could be harvesting, indexing, and extracting content for your users to read in full inside Google Reader.  Google has an opportunity here to pull these users over to their interface and make it even easier for them to read the content their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are sharing.  While RSS is certainly not dead, the Social Graph most definitely reigns supreme – embrace it.  Use Facebook Graph API.  Use Twitter’s API.  Otherwise Google is going to get left in the dust by competitors that do.  Users want this.

The Desktop is Not the Future

While Google Reader has built an amazing desktop and web experience, it’s time they move forward.  We have gone beyond the typical, dynamic desktop browser being the interface to the web and have moved towards an app era that leverages the web to build custom experiences tailored for static screen sizes on various platforms.  There’s the iPhone.  There’s the iPad.  There are various flavors of Android and Windows for Mobile Phones.  Every other web developer building a company right now is building for these platforms.  Google seems to be stuck in the web browser, something I argue is a mistake.

True, Google has a custom web experience for the iPad and iPhone, but quite frankly – that experience stinks.  Look at the Reeder app for iPad and iPhone to contrast.  It has a “move to the next unread item” button, for instance, that lets you easily surf through your unread news and skim it as you please.  It has a simple interface for sharing, leaving notes, and even allows you to share to other social networks if you choose.  They’ve built an amazing interface that focuses on mobile and tablets that wraps around the stale Google Reader web interface.

Now look at the non-RSS centric experiences like FlipBoard.  Swipe your fingers and it flips pages similar to a magazine or book.  The experience is magically formatted in a natural way that makes reading the news easy!  Mobile devices were built for reading the news.  They are the magazines and newspapers of the future.  Google Reader should be the ones in control on this front or they’re going to get out-taken by their competitors.

Share! Share! Share!

Google Reader does a little of this.  You can share to Twitter and Facebook and other sources, but quite honestly, the experience is lacking.  This should be at the forefront of their experience – easy to see and obvious to the reader that this is what they want them to do.  Right now to share to Facebook, for instance, I have to click on the “send to” link (or press shift-t), and for any site I want to share to Google makes me leave the site and go to each individual site to share.  This experience should be much more integrated into the UI, controlled by keyboard gestures, without having to leave the site.  Facebook Graph API and Social Plugins should be used.  Twitter’s API or @anywhere should be used.  The links should be in more prominent positions, easy for the reader to see.  The “Send To” should be consolidated with the “share” link and terminology should all be centered around “sharing”.

The entire experience should be much more social.

Streamline the UI

Google Reader used to be top of the line when it came to great user experiences.  They enabled keyboard shortcuts and a very simple UI that was easy to manage.  Since then, they have added all sorts of bloat to the interface, slowing it down and making it harder to manage.  To hide someone or add them to another group, for instance, it takes at least a minute for me to do anything surrounding that.  Refreshing the page takes too long.

Google needs to start fresh and build the UI from the ground up, with these new focuses in mind, and focus on speed, simplicity, and cleanliness.  The entire UI needs to be re-done and targeted towards the new features I’ve suggested here.  It needs to be faster.  No site should take longer than 4 seconds to load.  It needs to have entirely different versions for mobile devices, and most of all it needs to be easier to use.

Be Sure Not to Neglect Your Strengths

In all this I am not suggesting Google Reader become FlipBoard.  Google Reader needs to stick to its strengths – it needs to continue a strong focus on RSS, while bringing in all the other elements I mentioned.  It needs to remain top in its game of strong UIs and easy to organize content reading.  It needs to keep the focus on leaving notes and sharing with other Google Reader users.

I’m afraid Google has stopped innovating in this space.  We’re seeing so with evidence of other strong readers emerging in the areas I have mentioned.  Google has such strong potential to own this space if they chose.  I really hope they take this advice constructively and try to adapt these things.  If not, users, including myself, are going to be forced to bigger and better ways of consuming our news in a way that is more modern and convenient to the user.

In the meantime, you can follow all my Google Reader shares on my link blog at

Is Google Stealing Authors’ Copyright With Buzz?

2 years ago I shared about a blogger and follower/friend of mine, Ali Akbar, who purchased the domain, (he still owns it) in order to create an AppEngine-related blog (since Google apparently forgot to purchase the domain).  Ali received a threatening Cease-and-Desist from Google shortly after asking him to immediately discontinue use of the domain and “Take immediate steps to transfer the Domain Name to Google”.  It would appear that Google needs to take a dose of its own medicine though.  To my surprise, I’ve realized recently that my articles from and other blogs are being shared, in their full text, on Buzz and having my ads stripped from them, without my permission.

For those unaware, there’s a “subscribe” button when you visit this blog that allows anyone to obtain the RSS of this blog and plug it into a Reader.  For those of you reading this in a Reader, thank you, and you’re already aware of this.  One thing I have done with those feeds if you haven’t noticed is at the bottom of each post in the RSS, I’ve added Google Adsense to my feeds so I can at least cover my costs of running this blog and make at least a few cents a day trying to re-coup costs of hosting and time spent writing posts.  If you visit in a browser like Chrome, you can look at the raw feed and see the ads at the bottom of each post.  Or, if you’re reading this post in a traditional feed reader, look down at the bottom of this post and you’ll see the ad.

However, there’s a feature on Buzz that enables anyone reading my shared posts to expand the summarized content and view the entire post, right in Buzz.  For one, I didn’t give Buzz permission to do this on shared posts, and second, Buzz is stripping out my ads, depriving me of that potential revenue rather than either displaying those ads, or redirecting the user back to my site where I can monetize that in some other form.  This is blatant copyright infringement if you ask me!  Now, if you expand my posts, since it’s integrated into Gmail, look over to the right – see those ads?  Yup, I’m not getting a penny of that.

Google is now monetizing my content, and neglecting to ask for my permission in doing so, while removing what I had put in place to monetize my content.  Starting today, I’m removing my blog from my Google Profile, as well as my Google Reader shares so that I don’t help further the copyright infringement on other blogs I share.  The problem that still exists is that anyone who shares my content from Google Reader will also have my content available on Buzz in full format, and my ads stripped.  There’s no way to stop it, and Google is encouraging this wrong practice.

To be clear, I’m fine with them either displaying the ads that I put there (and allowing me to monetize off the other ads that are on the page), or just summarizing the article and encouraging users to click through to my site.  I’m not okay with Google scraping my content, stripping my ads, altering my content, and pushing it out for them to get 100% of the revenues off of something I spent time and money making.

Google, how is this not evil?  Maybe I should use Google’s own Cease and Desist letter to get them to stop this practice.  Or would that itself be copyright infringement?

Image courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment – “The Ant Bully”

UPDATE: The Google Buzz Team did contact me on Buzz (Ironically, considering the content of this post), and they say they’re going to have the ad scraping issue fixed by next week.

Did Google Reader Just Turn on the Firehose?

Google’s big push recently has been on enabling open, real-time technologies to publish, read, and interact with its new service Buzz.  Reader, its RSS subscription and website reading service, is one of the biggest tools to integrate with the service.  So much that my Reader contacts are now my Buzz contacts.  Until now, Google Reader, while when it would share your posts, it would send updates to subscribing services via Pubsub Hubbub (PSHB), it did not support the reading end of it for supported blogs that publish via PSHB.

Just after my last post on Google ironically, I noticed immediately after publishing people were sharing my post, something very unusual for the service, which usually takes up to an hour for my posts to show up on the site.  Going into Reader, I noticed it had immediately recognized my post.  I quickly queried a friend of mine at Google, who stated, “They can neither confirm nor deny my suspicion” (that it was launched), but I was “observant”.  Sounds like they just launched Pubsub Hubbub support.

WordPress-enabled Blogs that want to be seen immediately after publishing in Google Reader just need to install Josh Fraser’s Pubsub Hubbub plugin for WordPress.  After hitting publish, your post should appear immediately afterwards in PSHB-supported clients, which, if I am correct, now includes Google Reader’s massive user base.

If this is true, you should see this post immediately after I hit publish in Google Reader.  Assuming I’m right (which it seems so), Robert Scoble’s concern of it taking too long to get news (#5) just went out the door today – he can now get this just as fast, if not faster than any service such as Twitter, FriendFeed, or Buzz, and this way, he gets to read the full content of the article.  When I hit publish on this post you will see it immediately.  You are subscribed to my feeds, right?

UPDATE: Just after hitting publish it appeared immediately in Google Reader on this post as well.  I’m 99.9% sure now that PSHB was launched on Google Reader today.

Image courtesy

Is Google Reader Still an RSS Reader?

I’ve been following the Buzz about Buzz today (click on the link – get it?), and, wanting to try it (since I’m not of the privileged few bloggers given access at launch), I started browsing on my iPhone where I heard it was available.  Immediately I was presented with a list of people following me that I was not following back, so I went in and clicked follow on about 300 or so people that it said I was not following yet.  Big Mistake.

Later in the day I went to check Google Reader, which until today was my RSS Reader of choice, and lo and behold I had over 400 items from just the last hour sitting in my unread items box.  It turns out when you follow someone on Buzz, it also follows them on Reader, and who knows what else on the various Google properties.  Now, the only way to bring my volume of repeat RSS shares from friends down on Google Reader is to go into each and every one, mark hide, and manually move each into their own separate folders.  All this on an already slow Google Reader interface.  I’m not looking forward to that.

I have been critical ever since the Reader team introduced social features into Google Reader.  Now, rather than being a place where I can just go to ensure I’m getting the latest news from the blogs I want to subscribe to, as a traditional RSS Reader should be, I’m now stuck in a world with hundreds to thousands of shared items from friends, many of those repeat items, getting fed to me over and over again, even when I don’t want them!  Add to that all the likes, comments, ability to post “status updates”, and more, it occurred to me today that Google Reader is no longer an RSS Reader – it is now a Social Network!

I wish Google Reader would just stick to what it’s good at – being an RSS Reader.  I now need a place I can go just to get the news I want and don’t want to miss.  Some say those days are gone, but it’s still a need for me.  Today with the introduction of Buzz, Google Reader became useless to me.  If I want to skim the news I can go to Buzz and get all the features of a social network.  I don’t need Google Reader to do that for me.  But when I just want to read the news I want, Google Reader has lost its use for me.  Maybe some of this is the reason Google Reader’s former team lead just switched to the Youtube team?

I’m first to admit RSS is far from dead, though I think it’s time to find another RSS Reader.  Should I just switch to  Where can one go to get the news these days?

This is What an RSS Reader is For

RSSYesterday Robert Scoble wrote a critical post claiming Chris Brogan was using Twitter wrong, stating Chris isn’t separating his content on Twitter well enough.  As one who had to create multiple Twitter accounts to separate out my activity, I am one of the first to support this method.  As it stands though, even I will be first to admit this is a hack.  The only reason I’m creating multiple Twitter accounts is because Twitter, by nature, makes it very difficult to separate out activity like this.  What Scoble wants is a way for him to better read people’s feeds on Twitter, and separate out your blog post from the rest of the content on Twitter.  The problem is, despite what everyone says, I think Scoble is realizing the weakness of Twitter which is that it isn’t really an RSS Reader.

Scoble wants a way to take all the Tweets, by list of those he follows, and read their blog posts, just like he would in an RSS Reader.  My guess is that this is so he doesn’t have to leave Twitter to find new blog posts, a legitimate excuse.  However, Twitter just wasn’t built that way.  As one of the most vocal critics of Google Reader, I think what Scoble and others with this problem need is just what they’re criticizing – an actual RSS Reader built around reading blog posts.

I’ve always been a proponent of the mantra that Social Media is not how you give – it’s how you receive.  If you have a problem with the way others are Tweeting or blogging or posting on Facebook, then find a better way of receiving that data, unfollow, or do something so that you’re only getting the data you want to receive.  There are so many tools out there – FriendFeed (FriendFeed is so much more than just community – it’s an incredible tool!), Google Reader, TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, Brizzly, Twitter’s own interface, Facebook’s own interface, and many, many more, that surely there has to be something that enables this.

If not, bloggers need to be petitioning developers, not individual users of these services, to change their ways.  For instance, why can’t I separate out the Tweets with links in them from the rest of the Tweets on Seesmic Desktop?  Or why can’t I specify what my blog is on Twitter and have Twitter distinguish that as meta data for other developers to separate from the rest of the stream?  Why can’t I preview the links before clicking on them?

If you’re not getting what you want from Social Media, this is the fault of the innovators, not the users.  In the case of RSS, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – this is why I never left Google Reader or FriendFeed in the first place, and don’t anticipate doing so any time soon.  They solve the problem Robert Scoble is speaking of for me.

That said, to be considerate of those on Twitter I may still start an additional account that imports just my blog posts, but why? So just one or two individuals can read it? At what point am I separating my Twitter stream so much that you can’t find everything you want to find out about me?  IMO the mantra still exists that you should always be using the best tool for the job, and for reading blogs, Twitter just doesn’t cut it.