Last weeks news that Google Reader traffic was down, and pointing to Twitter and Facebook overtaking RSS readers as a consumption tool for news (or rather, discovery) rather annoyed me; correlation and causation and all that. I was going to let it go, but now Dave Winer’s done a piece on HOW RSS MUST CHANGE and Scoble responded and I’ve sure seen a whole host of others have added their insightful bon mots/single points of data on twitter.
I’m not sure I agree; my single point of data is that I still use my RSS, less ‘cause I’m busy right now, but I add and prune my feeds and, looking at my Reader stats: “From your 217 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 8,644 items, clicked 265 items, starred 0 items, shared 0 items, and emailed 0 items.”, other than Google’s woeful social functions, I think I’m doing pretty well.
I also think there’s an advanced user/early adopter thing here, at least when you have Dave Winer and Scoble posting about it.
But I also suspect there’s an interesting cognitive trick at play; items in your twitter stream are likely to be things you agree with/aesthetically enjoy or, if not, that are framed by the snide little remark preceding the link. So your bias for all these pieces of content that have been filtered through people like you is pretty high, and it’s this confirmation bias that makes me value social news so much less than my own curated sources. Now, I suffer a little from self-selected selection in my Reader, but there’s a good few provocative links, articles and the like which I probably wouldn’t see on twitter. Add to that the niche bartending, coding and other sites, plus social updates from Flickr and delicious in the reader, and I really don’t value my social news stream that much. Sorry paper.li users.
I want to read news from sources I am used to, I want to follow story arcs and webcomic plots, and I tend to want to do it in a more immersive fashion than twitter affords. RSS Readers hit you right in the Zone of Proximal Development, and that’s why I’m sticking to my well tended OPML file (I wish OKCupid would hurry up and let me upload my OPML file for their matching algorithm).