Recently in Blogging Category
June 17, 2013
Still haven't settled on an RSS reader to replace #googlereader - Netvibes doesn't seem to cope with so many feeds...-- Paul Bradshaw (@paulbradshaw) June 14, 2013
@paulbradshaw I've settled on Feedly for reading generally - the fly in the ointment is the lack of search.-- Adam Tinworth (@adders) June 14, 2013
I've never really gone into the reasons why, and with the Google Reader shutdown now less than two weeks away, it seems like I should...
There's no doubt that it has taken me a while to get used to Feedly. I'm used to the river of headlines style of Google Reader and the many app that I used it through. As you can see from the picture above, I generally have Feedly set to a more magazine-style appearance. After about a month of using it that way, I can't imagine going back to the old approach.
The art of flicking...
It's fundementally more efficient for flicking through feeds - and I subscribe to a lot of them - than the other approach. The combination of extracting the photo and a chunk of text makes it easier for me to make rapid decisions about what's worth clicking through to, or not. I'm wasting less time starting to reading arcticle that I'm not actually that interested in, and that's valuable, given how time-limited I am at the moment.
It also means that my RSS reading has moved almost entirely to my iPad. I once in a while flick through some feeds on my phone, but I pretty much never open Feedly in the browser on my laptop. The magazine-style design of Feedly and Flipboard has cottoned onto something quite profound. Magzine design evolved the way it did because it's very effective at presenting content to you in an enjoyably browsable format. People sit down and flick through magazines - they rarely sit and read them comprehensively like they do a book, say. Taking design cues from magazines without slavishly following them makes perfect sense, and works really well.
My feed browsing has become a genuinely "lean back" task, and would be laregly performed in my favourite tub chair, if my wife hadn't nicked it for nursing Hazel...
Maybe Google did us a favour
In fact, Feedly is just one of a range of services developing and innovating around RSS for the first time in probably half a decade. Feedly suits me just fine, but I assume that there are plenty of other people out there who'd prefer something more akin to the old style. My old favourite Mr Reader is in the process of updating to support alternatives, and is the well-regarded Reeder - which will be supporting Feedly.
RSS is always going to be a power-user feature, bar some canny developer coming up with a user-experience on top of it that's so simple and compelling that explaining what the service is and why you should care becomes trivial - which it's not right now. That's OK, though. The development we're seeing is of serious and dedicated tools for hard-core consumers of web information. That's exactly what we need.
Without intending to do it, Google ended up shackling the development of RSS readers. I'm looking forward to a world without those shackles.
June 8, 2013
I seem to have spent much of the last three years on the verge of migrating this blog off Movable Type to another blog platform. Just as I'm about to do it, the new, Japanese incarnation of Six Apart pulls something out of the hat to make the gain of moving less than the pain of the process.
The latest version of Movable Type has done it again, adding a new, usable version of the interface for smartphones and tablets, and a second responsive design theme. The first I'm using right now to quickly post from my phone. The other I'll implement sometime over the summer.
How long will this keep me happy?
May 29, 2013
This should solve your problem...
May 28, 2013
May 19, 2013
There are many rewards to blogging, but it's easy to get distracted by the easy one. Big numbers are a big distraction. My post on citizen journalism earlier in the week got big numbers. That obviously makes me happy.
My post on Bruce Sterling and the video of his speech at NEXT Berlin? That didn't get big numbers. In fact, calling the numbers "small" seems, well, generous. Yet, it provoked this post in response - well, not response exactly, but it acted as a catalyst for a thought process that became that post.
That's actually a bigger reward to me - I published something which someone I think is pretty smart used to write something pretty smart. I'm bringing insightful things to the notice of insightful people. That's worthwhile.
I often preach the "hits stands for How Idiots Track Success" mantra - the interactive journalism MA students at City University can vouch for that - so I should remember to practice it, shouldn't I?
After all, if I wanted the big numbers, this would be called something like "The Digital Journalism Expert" and have headlines that ran along the lines of 10 things digital journalism can learn from the Tumblr /Yahoo deal. But it's not, and they don't. You just have the meandering thoughts of one man on his blog, and just because my reputation built through this blog is the source of my income and my family's financial security doesn't mean I should let big numbers blind me to the truth: influence can be small, subtle and complicated, and often driven by small acts of generosity.
Find something cool. Pass it along. Change a couple of people's thought processes. Who knows what might happen?
May 1, 2013
Tomorrow, I'm trying a New Thing.
This New Thing will involve Matt Buck of Drawnalism and myself working together to capture content from a conference. I do the words, he does the graphics.
If you want to know more about what we've got planned - and the rationale behind it, I've written a post for the B2BHuddle blog explaining all. If you want to see how we do - stay right here on this blog, because this is where we'll be doing it...
April 30, 2013
April 29, 2013
The Kickstarter's been running 48 hours - and they're 70% funded already. I've just backed it to help push closer to that finish line, but I'm pretty sure they'll be there by the end of the week.
It looks really, really good - the first blogging platform built for the multi-device age.
April 11, 2013
Like most bloggers of any note, I get regular e-mails asking me to publish guest posts, or text links. I understand the SEO reasons for this, but always decline - politely to the well-thought through ones, and through deletion to the ones where my name, my blog name and a recent post title are rather obviously pasted into a standard form e-mail.
Yesterday an e-mail arrived that was so far outside the norm that I have to quote in full:
i need this type of placement could you do this?
1. We will provide php file with plugin source code
2. Webmaster will need to FTP to root folder of blog, then open folder wp-content/plugins
3. Webmaster will need to create folder 'footerlinks', then enter that folder and upload php file that we provided
4. Webmaster will need to log into blog admin area, click 'Plugins' in left menu, click 'Installed' in submenu, find plugin named 'Footer Links' and click 'activate' link
5. After that links will appear at the bottom of the blog like here [LINK REMOVED] see our links in footer.Very simple work just 1,2 minut only,Our links show on your old ABOUT PAGE.
i can give you $200 for uploading our php file for 1 year time period only.
Let me know are you agree if you agree then send me paypal id please.
Waiting for your Answer
Well, now, Vincent, you want me to insert your arbitrary php code into my (non-existent - I use a different blog platform) WordPress install, for the grand sum of $200 dollars? Hand you a backdoor to the blog for such a small amount of money. I think I'll be declining, and I think anyone else who recieved such an "offer" should do the same.
This e-mail tells me two things:
- There are some pretty stupid bloggers out there, if this works
- There are some even more desperate SEOs...
April 10, 2013
Patrick Smith Storified the traditional media coverage of Thatcher's death. The key take-away? Liveblogging is the main way the nationals are covering events like this. It's odd, because a majority of journalisms still seem to regard liveblogging as a niche activity, whereas it's very clearly front and centre in the mainstream of news coverage right now. Yet, I see even journalism students regarding liveblogging as an annoying necessity before they move onto the "real" job of writing a traditional inverted pyramid story.
Pre-internet, you ran a news story, an obit, and lots of reaction or analysis pieces. Post-internet, you can bring together all the disparate piece of publication, reaction and news into an on-going narrative - and link to the more traditional story formats as your produce them. The skill is not just in aggregating stuff, but in building a narrative out of it.
March 18, 2013
Fabulous post from Steph, encapsulating the essence of blogging:
Blogging is about writing, but also about reading and responding. Links ensure that a blog doesn't exist in a vacuum. The parallel human activity is responding to comments, reading other bloggers, linking to them socially, and actually engaging with content found elsewhere.
Sometimes only people who are really good at something can explain it simply.
March 14, 2013
Sometimes, checking your news reader before you hit the sack is an error. Last night was one such night - because I flipped through articles to find that Google is killing off Google Reader.
For many of you, this will mean little or nothing. But for many prolific bloggers and information workers, this is a disaster. An RSS reader - a piece of software that subscribes to feeds of information from websites - is the only efficient way to monitor a range of topics online. You don't need to visit each site individually, just spend some time in your feedreader. It's not a technology that ever hot the mainstream - which is one reason that Google dumping it. But the noise will be disproportionate, because so many people who write and create for the internet will be affected by this. Google Reader is a niche tool, but an incredibly important one for those who use it.
What really rankles, though, is that Google killed off an ecosystem when they launched Reader. In the mid-2000s, there were a whole range of RSS readers available, but Google's own offering became the default over time, because it was so tied into the rest of the Google ecosystem. Google's free product left no financial oxygen for other, commercial offering, and they withered and died.
The recent rise in RSS readers on iOS in particular looks like innovation and diversity is back in the ecosystem - but this is largely an illusion. Pretty much all of these apps are just interfaces to Google Reader, and are dependent on it for feed management and, crucially, syncing between devices. One developer has made it plain that his app isn't going away just because the underlying mechanism is:
Don't worry, Reeder won't die with Google Reader.-- Reeder (@reederapp) March 14, 2013
I wonder how many others will survive? My preferred desktop client - Caffienated - is going stand-alone, which means I need a new app, that does have some form of syncing built-in.
In the meantime, though, RSS reading is important enough to me that I'm already making preparations. So far:
- I've reinstalled Fever on my web server. It's a self-hosted RSS reader, that does some nice analysis to show you what the most popular links amongst your feeds are. It syncs with the iPhone version of Reeder - and if that ability comes to the iPad and Mac version of the software, I have my solution.
- I've added my Reader account to Flipboard, so those subscriptions won't be lost when Reader goes away.
- I've installed Feedly, and added my Google Reader details, so they'll be transferred when they get their replacement API up and going.
My City colleague Paul Bradshaw is crowd-sourcing a list of potential Google Reader alternatives.
(Yes, there's a "Hitler discovers..."/Downfall video parody)