I am an admitted advocate of Google products. This morning, when perusing my Google Reader, I came across a post from Zoli Erdos, “Oh, No, The RSS Debate Again,” which referenced a post from Sam Diaz, “RSS: A good idea at the time but there are better ways now.”
Diaz claims the Google Reader is a Web 1.0 tool and not sufficient for today’s Web 2.0 world. He sites some statistics from Forrester as support for his argument:
According to a Forrester Research study about the reach of social technologies, only nine percent of U.S. online adults said they use an RSS feed monthly, down from 11 percent the year before. By contrast, 50 percent are visiting social networking sites, up from 34 percent last year and 39 percent are reading blogs, up from 37 percent a year ago.
His argument against pretty much boils down to managing the feeds and digesting the volume, coupled with new tools such as Yahoo and Google News, Techmeme, bookmarks of favorite sites, Facebook and Twitter to find articles.
If you need content in real time, you probably do need to visit sites and get the help of others who are promoting their content, but for the majority of users, a tool such as Google Reader is invaluable for keeping current.
I’d suggest that a smaller percent are using Reader, because they don’t know it exists or understand the value once they do. Reader is a time management tool.
I believe many early adopters and heavy users forget that the average internet user is rather naive. Consider the above noted statistics, 50% of users have visited social network sites and 39% are reading blogs. What are the other people doing online?
Users who are only now getting engaged in blogs and social networks will explore, find many fascinating things, and ultimately need to manage the time they spend online. Business professionals need to stay current on the topics impacting their industry. What better way than through blogs and social networks? The Reader allows one to manage the glut of information without wasting time.
I currently have 63 sites I follow through Reader. I could never pay attention to this many sites by visiting them all. I typically hit Reader after making posts to my community web site, roughly 7-9 a.m. is when I get to it. After 9:00 a.m. I hardly hit it unless I’m working at night.
Each day, roughly 100-200 items are tagged as read. I try to scan through the previous day’s posts until I hit one I’ve already read. According to Reader, in the past 30 days I read 1701 items and shared 55 items.
My shared items are my keepers. These are the ones I found valuable to projects I’m working on. Once shared, I’ll later return to them while working to extract the nuggets of wisdom that attracted me in the first place.
So, for roughly one hour or less per day, I can track over 60 sites and stay current in the areas I’m most interested. The efficiency is unmatched and I can always add new sites I come across through social tools.
Could new tools be added to make Reader even better? Absolutely. Does this render the Reader absolete? Absolutely not.
The Reader is not dead, it is waiting to be discovered.