Tag Archives: delicious

Another attempt at the Death of RSS Readers

When I recently wrote about the Death of RSS Readers, it seemed that there was a wave of similar posts around the web (like this RSS is Dying ). A lot of people reacted to these Death of RSS sentiments with Sure, RSS is dead, just like the web is dead) which, for me,  sort of misses the point(s).

I was interested in RSS reading from a teaching perspective. I’m not saying for one minute that RSS is dead as a technology, it’s just that is knowing about RSS really necessary when introducing people to the whole world of Web2.0? Lots of the people I know who use RSS Readers have been using them for at least 5 years, maybe 10. They’ve grown with them, slowly and carefully built up a collection of feeds worth reading. Is this roughly how long it takes to massage and mulch RSS reading into something you like? Given tools like paper.li is learning about Google Reader really worth the effort?

I’m sure part of my, and others’ ennui with RSS, or rather news in general was in part similar to how newspapers are woefully slim at Christmas, when you need them most with some time to kill in the post-Boxing Day lull.

In my swapping OPML experiment with Doug and Andy, I noticed they had about 200ish feeds each. I had 200ish feeds too. Is that a natural limit? Is it point where you start to see the phenomenon I noticed whereby with different feeds you can start to receive roughly the same news. Is 200 the point when the benefits of looking for new feeds stop paying off because the news they report starts to overlap with news you already get … from sources whose names you can remember.

Interestingly, I’ve found that by adding BOTH Doug and Andy’s OPML subscriptions to my subscriptions (now 600ish instead of 200ish) I’ve found that it’s breathed a breath of fresh novelty, of similar but different news into my old favourites. Either that or people who make the news are back at work again.

I’ve also found the Feedly iPhone app has helped too (see below) because if RSS Reading can’t be done on the train then you do begin to lose interest too. (And if you are Google Reader user AND a Firefox/Chrome user and haven’t tried Feedly, go give it a go… Paul! )

So, some questions…

Is 200ish just a magic number when it comes to RSS subscriptions? If you use Google Reader, how many subscriptions do you have?

Why is subscribing so binary? Often, you want to hush a feed, rather than unsubscribe forever. Or maybe you only want to hear from a feed if people from your social circle (or network) are into a feed…

Why is there an artificial split between writing and reading? Why is there a separate application, like Delicious, for tagging web pages (that you can also write notes on)?

… and an idea!

Imagine if you will a mashup between Delicious, Google Reader and WordPress. It’s a simple enough idea called “Reading & Writing & Organising”.

All three of those tools share tags, content (posts) and URLs… why not work with them in one place rather than three.

  • You create a blog post, it contains some links and add some tags. The aggregator in the background notices both the links and tags and suggests new content from that site or author, or other content based on the tags. But ultimately you never have to “subscribe” to particular feed.
  • You tag a page as interesting and it shows up, to you, alongside blog posts you’ve written earlier as “maybe of interest. If you start creating a blog post with those tags, those pages will be “to hand”.
  • Whilst reading some news, you share a few items. Adding more text and notes as you go you decide that you’d like to publish this on your blog.

The tags you tag random content out there in the wild internet, the tags you tag “subscriptions” with ( the difference between Delicious and Google Reader starts to blur if you imagine that Delicious had have auto-discovered newer items from the ones you’ve tagged) and the tags you tag your own content with, become, or can become, the same tags.

The random notes you add to tags, can become blog posts… or not.

Your subscriptions are like your “best bits” blogroll.

And all it needs is to blur (and remove the replication of concepts ) Delicious, Google Reader and WordPress… and to remove the separation of reading and writing. As ideas go, it’s about taking stuff out rather than adding stuff in…

Imagine…

A blogroll that auto-subscribed to new items, and was shareable (does anyone really bother with blogrolls anymore?)

Bookmarks that were linked to YOUR WORK… and your news.

A Tag Cloud of news subscriptions… tags AND/OR content.

…. just a thought ….




Produce, Organise, Consume

produceorganiseconsume1

I think what I’m trying to sort out in my mind is what are the main skills that people need when being introduced to all the loveliness of Web2.0.

Looking back the components might have been…

  • Having a blog or wiki where you can quickly create information and more importantly, be found (and connected with).
  • Using Delicious so that you can benefit from other people’s bookmarks, work across devices (home, work, iphone etc)
  • Using an RSS Reader to make keeping up-to-date that much easier…

And to be honest, when introducing those three tools to teams, people aren’t half creative with what can be done with crude and simple tools. But with Delicious fading and Google Reader seeming less relevant somehow, is all we’re left with Twitter and Facebook ( or twitter-based tools like Paper.li )? … for both Production and Consumption of information… with nowhere to shape, to hack or Organise our information.

In many ways these three tools never really integrated very well. Maybe that is a good thing, like separation of church and state… Maybe I’m getting old but 2011 feels more about losing choice and control than gaining new features.

The Death of Delicious

Apologies for another “Death of…” post… just getting a few things off my chest.

I was a Delicious user ( everythingability ). I used it for years, often I wasn’t sure why but somehow it felt like I was building up a useful resource somehow. As you can see, my bookmarked stuff is mainly about usability, socialmedia, collaboration and the like. And like my RSS Reader account, most of it is old.

Delicious certainly was useful for retrieving those “where did I see that” items or for rummaging around other people’s bookmarks. But also, like RSS, for me, Delicious never lived up to its potential.

Delicious has the potential to be an RSS news reader for one. It almost was a personal taxonomy that could have helped me organise other items (like RSS subscriptions maybe) … it could have helped me connect with hashtags on Twitter… or SOMETHING! At least it might have checked (and flagged) broken links or shown me a tag cloud over time.

I guess I’m saying the same thing as I said in my last post, that I’m finding it hard to believe in the process of tagging and encourage other people to explore it. Yes, I’ve found it personally useful, but it took YEARS and now Delicious is being closed down I wonder if I’ll really even miss it.

One of the best uses of Delicious I saw was as a shared repository to create a Horizon Report, a methodology developed by NASA ( I think ) to help teams future gaze without the noisy people dominating.

A Horizon Report is a simple enough way of working and basically a group of people share interesting stuff with tags of “short term”, “mid term” and “long term” and everyone then votes on what’s been collected.  It’s an interesting way of consensually identifying what an organisation should focus on next. Every organisation should do one.

The best bit about using Delicious for this was how well it integrates into people’s everyday work. With the right bits and bobs in place (bookmarkets, plugins etc) , an individual can easily flag things of interest and collectively build up a genuinely useful ( but disposeable ) archive.  It’s a Web2.0 wet dream.

But now it’s time to clear up the mess and move on.

After being a vague fan of the Cloud, I must admit that Delicious closing down does worry me. Not because I’ve lost a service, as I said, I was never sure about WHY I was even tagging things. I’m not overly worried by the loss of the data, most of it was old anyway and I have an XML export file if I really want to breath life into old interests.

I may be mourning the loss of potential that Delicious never quite lived up to.

I think the scariest thing about all of this is that increasingly, as the Cloud becomes more pervasive, there will be no places to jump to… there a big gaps between the Clouds and as yours evaporates you will have simply have created SO MUCH DATA that even if you wanted to, copying it to another Cloud will take years… and the only other Cloud out there will have a Google logo on it.