As a few SBXers have outlined before, we’re none too pleased about the demise of Google Reader (GR). We’ve been searching out alternatives and comparing notes internally, but I think we’d all just rather keep our original readers that were set up the way we liked them.
Well, we are apparently not alone. A survey by Digg conducted in April found that 40 percent of people surveyed would be willing to PAY for a GR replacement. While, it’s lower than the number of folks that wouldn’t be willing to pay, I’m still a little shocked by how large that percentage is. I, for one, would not be willing to pay for a service that doesn’t quite stack up in comparison to a service I used to get for free.
It could be that people think a paid service won’t disappear on them the way GR has, but that is not necessarily the truth. A paid service can certainly go out of business or shutter it’s doors as well. Personally, I’d rather pay to get GR back.
Digg’s survey was conducted to gather information to make their impending reader service and additional features fit the needs of former GR users. But, to me it just shows how much people will miss GR. The survey also found that email sharing still dominates social channels. (I’d agree here and I’d like my reader to push emails to Gmail instead of Outlook.)
And, it shows that no one really cares about the social features within the reader platform. It seems to me that if people are going to share an article they already know where/how they want to share it – the reader doesn’t need to become a social network in itself, we have enough of those. But, Digg has decided to ignore this nugget, noting below the graph that despite the answer they believe that creating a social feeling within their reader is important.
I’m not sure that I’ll be trying out Digg’s reader service when it launches in June (especially if they are going to charge for it), but I will certainly be keeping an eye on it.
Unrelated: Join our webinar "The Convergence of PR and SEO" on Thursday!
Since the news of the demise of Google Reader (GR), we at SBX have all been trying out different readers to see what we like best and sharing info internally. Seeing as how many people outside of SBX are being affected by Google’s (in my opinion) poor decision I figured I should share some of my findings here.
I’m currently using Feedly, NewsBlur and Reeder – and trying to force myself not to use GR. I’m also thinking about trying BlogLovin’ too, mostly because the name makes me think of McLovin.
Today, I plan to share my thoughts with you NewsBlur.
When I first went to sign up, NewsBlur said that they were overloaded and only offering its paid option. However I plugged my info in anyway and up came my posts! However, there was one hitch. They only allow you to import 64 feeds using their free version.
I took this as an opportunity to separate the blogs I read for work and the blogs I read for fun. I created a new account using a different email address and manually imported the feeds I wanted to keep up with for work reasons. This took forever but I’ve found it useful so far. It’s a lot less distracting when I log in to do market reading!
I took a little time off from NewsBlur to explore Feedly and logged back in to this:
WHOA. Blog overload.
I took a minute to try to figure out what I was looking at and realized that all the work I had done organizing my feeds into groups and setting things up the way I wanted had gone out the window. NOT HAPPY. I quickly realized that this was user error and that it did not properly log me in, but made me think it did since it was showing a blog I follow.
Turns out this is what my reader actually looks like:
AHHH. Nice and neat.
As it turns out, I actually like this reader. I didn’t think I’d find something I like since I’d only used GR and would be comparing everything to that.
The display is very basic. Just a list of blogs/folders on the left and blog posts to scroll through on the right. Very similar to GR in that aspect. It gives you the ability to use a few different views of the posts – I prefer the feed view, as it looks the most like GR.
The only thing that seems a bit of a let down are the sharing capabilities. It’s nice to be able to just pop the post in an email to someone you know might be interested but there doesn’t seem to be an easy/logical way to do that from NewsBlur. I know it has sharing options it just makes them hard to use. Also, I’m not loving that the free version only lets you view 10 posts in your feed before making you refresh to get to the rest.
I haven’t quite figured it out all the way yet… So, I might update this post again when I do.
Overall, I’d say if you liked the starkness of GR and didn’t really share posts all that often or worry about starring them or saving them for later then you should check out NewsBlur. Just make sure you don’t have too many feeds.
This morning, before I even got out of bed, I was greeted with the unwelcome news that Google is shutting down Google Reader as of July 1, 2013.
For those not familiar, Google Reader is an RSS feed aggregator that many people use to keep up with the numerous blogs they read and news websites they follow. I personally use it to follow 54 news websites and blogs and it’s also where I have my Google Alerts delivered for easy reading. Being able to use a service like Google Reader keeps me from having to bookmark each and every blog or website I want to keep up with and it has also allowed me to email and share articles directly from within Reader.
Reader also let’s me star articles that I want to save or come back to at a later time but it’s best if we don’t discuss the number of items I have starred and will likely lose (thank goodness I’ve been saving recipes to Pinterest!). I wouldn’t be lying if I said I feel lost at the moment thinking about what I’ll do without Google Reader. Truly the only thing worse for me would be if they did away with Picasa/Photos – which, no. Just no. Don’t even think about it Google!
For their part, Google says they are shutting down Reader because “usage of Google Reader has declined and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.” I’ve seen many say that this was not totally unforeseen and that Google Reader lived a much longer life than it was ever intended to. However, considering the amount of backlash I’ve seen on Facebook and in the comments section of articles that discuss the shutdown it’s clear that I’m not alone in feeling like I’ve been Scroogled.
So what’s a girl, or guy, to do? Well, there are several alternatives out there, including Feedly, Pulse, NewsBlur, Taptu, Flipboard, The Old Reader and Google Currents (if you trust Google not to shut it down in a few years after you’ve become dependent on it). Feedly and Pulse are the two I’ve seen mentioned the most so far and I know that a few of my fellow SpeakerBoxers are planning to check out a few of these services and write up reviews here on The Sounding Board.
In the meantime, it’s not just blog subscribers who use Google Reader who should be concerned about it closing its doors, but blog owners as well. While many of the alternatives listed above will hopefully help to keep readers up-to-date with their current blogs, blog owners can also take a few small actions to help loyal readers continue to find their content. While it’s not my preferred way to subscribe to a blog, be sure to allow readers to subscribe via email. Additionally, offer readers the opportunity to stay connected through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ (and Instagram and Pinterest if applicable) by providing easy links on your blog that users can simply click and follow from.
So how do you feel about Google killing off Google Reader? Do you have any suggestions for alternatives or for blog owners? Sound off below and let us know your thoughts.
In the meantime, while I wait for the reviews from my colleagues, I’ll be in the corner crying in to my coffee.
So look... I'm not a Google fan.
I don't like that Android ripped-off iOS.
I don't like that Google's monetization strategy is based on a trick.
I don't like that its once-clever logo "doodles" have been debased by rampant overuse. (I mean... Do we really need a doodle commemorating the birthday of the guy who invented the Speak n' Spell?)
I'm not sure about those strange Google Glass glasses (new video here). Though it's true, I often find myself thinking: "I just really don't have nearly enough computers on my face."
I'm also no fan of Google's blase attitude toward privacy, or how it seems to be Teflon for anti-trust judgements and regulations.
Speaking of which, take a look at the following chart produced by Statista on tech company lobbying in 2012:
“When you dominate a market the way Google dominates the search market, you will almost inevitably face antitrust allegations sooner or later. For the past two years, Google has been subject of an FTC investigation because of the way the company allegedly arranges search results to feature its own products more prominently. Last month the FTC closed the case, concluding that Google had not violated antitrust or anti-competition laws. The ruling was a major victory for the search giant, who avoids a sizable fine but committed to voluntarily change some of its practices. In its quest to fend off the allegations, Google had massively upped its lobbying expenditure in the past two years.”
First of all, is Hewlett-Packard still in business? Did not know that.
Second, maybe Apple should start using some of its $138 billion cash hoard on K street. Maybe kick-in for a few Windows 8 upgrades?
Okay, third: How the heck is this legal?
I mean, I know there's a fine line between government PR and lobbying. But since I work for an agency that practices the former, I'd like to attest that the line does in fact exist, and that it's typically drawn on top of a suitcase containing non-sequential twenties in rubber bands.
Seriously, this is super sketch. How do you even begin to spend $16.5 million legally on government in a year -- besides hiring contractors to shorten the stall dividers in the Senate washroom.
Obviously, I don't understand "lobbying" very well. But what I do understand is agency-mandated promotion of SpeakerBox whitepapers. So, if you're interested in communicating with government in a way that doesn't involve free Redskins tickets, try downloading our asset: "A Primer on B2G Public Relations"
You'll feel a lot cleaner in the morning.
"Okay, pull him. That was the precise amount of knee trauma I wanted him to sustain in this half."
Okay, let’s get the bad news out of the way first:
You remember that old adage -- “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”? Well, it turns out that’s pretty much the opposite of how it works.
According to doctors who no longer work for the Washington Redskins, getting a concussion (for example) doesn’t make you stronger at all. In fact, it makes you quite a bit weaker and more susceptible to a second concussion.
But maybe that whole “whatever makes me stronger” slogan is referring to mental toughness. You know, the “school of hard knocks” philosophy?
Let’s look at technology startups. Maybe failure early on just primes an entrepreneur for success down the road. Maybe? Yes?
According to Google’s venture capital arm (writes TNR’s Lydia DePillis):
“...Entrepreneurs whose first business did well had a 29 percent chance of success on their second, compared to a 16 percent success rate for people who’d failed their the first time around (essentially the same as first timers, who succeed 15 percent of the time).”
In other words, failed entrepreneurs don’t learn anything from their mistakes (at least nothing that’s statistically significant).
“[This finding] makes sense,” rationalizes DePillis. “There are a zillion ways to fail, and resolving to avoid the mistake that did you in the first time doesn’t shield you from making another one.”
Personally, I find that conclusion far too generous.
Any fair reading of history shows that we humans are quite talented at making the same exact mistakes over and over, ad infinitum.
Which bodes quite well for a third Nixon term, if not a healthy RGIII.
"So I noticed you made a purchase at Hot Topic and thought you might be interested in the following stripper jobs..."
Here's something new: I just paid actual money for Internet content. Actual, legitimate American dollars.
Was I at knife point, you ask. In fact, I was not.
I made this decision willingly, and here's why, as summarized by the New York Times Magazine's Jeffery Rosen:
"From the perspective of [free Internet purveyers like Google]... I am not the consumer; I am the product, waiting to be sold to advertisers.”
Hmm... So if I'm the product, how much am I worth?
"Some people," Rosen writes, "will be more valuable products than others, and they will live in a different virtual world as a result."
In other words: online microtargeting inevitably leads to price discrimination.
But I'm even more concerned about this:
"Yahoo has beta-tested a media interest manager that recommends 'news for you' based on its predictions of the stories Yahoo thinks you'll be most interested in."
Oh wait, we already have that. It's called Cable News.
Creepy to think that it's not just our ad selection, but our information consumption (and resulting worldview) that's going to be affected by these ad exchanges though, isn't it?
The Nazis had microtargeting too. (And it went great!)
And then there's Google Now. Oh, Google...
"Along with answering user-initiated queries, Google Now passively delivers information to the user that it predicts they will want, based on their search habits."
Translation: "information that Google Now predicts advertisers will want users to see."
Oh, and we're also seeing news outlets like the Denver Post steering us to "commercially valuable content" -- news stories created on demand that dovetail with advertiser demographic targeting.
Wait, we already have that too. It's called "what I do every day."
So yeah, in spite of my own self interests, I'm ponying up the dough for one of my favorite bloggers (Andrew Sullivan) who's getting rid of all corporate backers and advertisers.
So far, he raised $300,000 in 24 hours from subscribers like me, without giving away so much as a tote bag (though there's some reason to think this model is less replicable than it outwardly appears).
I think it's a smart move, for two reasons:
1. (The obvious point) Advertising kills content quality. Instead of writing for readers, we're writing for advertisers -- chasing short-term page views instead of long-term loyalty.
2. (The controversial point) I'm far from convinced that display advertising -- the backbone of our mobile computing economy -- actually works.
Oh, and I have numbers on that: One recent estimate puts average display click-through at less than 0.1 percent worldwide.
Yikes! And that's just click-through! Don't even get me started on the often spurious link between click-through and sales conversion.
The thing is, Google Adwords ads are successful because of a trick; most people don't realize they're just ads designed to look like real Google search results.
Google wants display advertising (much more suited to mobile platforms) to take off and find similar success. But there's no way to trick users into thinking that display ads are anything other than ads.
(Actually there are ways, but they're so devious as to completely alienate the few rubes who do end up clicking.)
So... to compensate for the failings of display ads, Google is increasing the specificity of its targeting -- which works up to a point (though evidently microtargeter BlueKai thinks I'm a 54 year-old housewife).
Make no mistake, this is big business. Last year, microtargeted real-time bidding represented 12 percent of display advertising on the Internet. By 2017, that number is projected to reach 34 percent.
And the collateral damage from this will be far-reaching. Think politics can't get any more polarized? Just you wait...
My friend and colleague Ali Robinson recently tackled the debate of Google v. Bing, and I thought I’d piggyback on that topic and share with you an article I recently read about charitable search engines. I’ve come across a few others in recent years, but considering how easy it is to swap out a search engine homepage, I thought we all (myself included) could use a good push of motivation to do so. It’s at no cost to the web surfer, and you can choose a philanthropic engine that is backed by your favorite search mogul – whether that’s Google, Bing, Yahoo! or Wikipedia. Every time you click “search”, money is given to a particular charity, or group of charities, providing food to those in need, books to underprivileged schools, removing litter from around the nation and more.
I’m going to change my search habits today, and likely choose one that’s backed by my beloved Google. What about you – are you going to alter your routine for the greater good?
- Mary Evans
I don’t know about you, but knowing there are only a couple weeks left in 2012 blows my mind. As they always do, the year absolutely flew by, stringing along the good, the bad and the ugly.
Which brings me to Google’s 2012 Zeitgeist report of the most searched topics of the year. They remind us of the good times, as well as the bad, and quite frankly, some of which just aren’t worth remembering.
Here’s a quick recap, but you can see the full list of categories here. What’s in store for us in 2013 trends? I can only hope for fewer natural disasters to be searched, the lack of new boy band names to obsess over and a Detroit World Series win to analyze. But it pains me to guess that Kate Middleton and her soon-to-be-born baby will top them all. Sigh.
- Whitney Houston
- Hurricane Sandy
- Election 2012
- Hunger Games
- Jeremy Lin
- Whitney Houston
- Jeremy Lin
- Amanda Todd
- Michael Clark Duncan
- Kate Middleton
- Hurricane Sandy
- Presidential Election
- Super Bowl
- UEFA Euro 2012
Most Searched Images
- One Direction
- Funny Pictures
- Nicki Minaj
- Justin Bieber
- Mary Evans
A few of us decided to take the Bing It On Challenge the other day, at Jonathan's suggestion, and I found the results to be kind of interesting.
All of us (Kathryn, Jennifer and myself) except for Jonathan chose Google. And Google didn't just win by one point, we chose it overwhelmingly. The challenge itself is simple, you search five terms and pick which results you prefer. You can base your choice on whatever matters to you most and at the end it will tell you which search engine you chose in each round.
If you decide to take the challenge and are a regular Google user you’ll notice that some of the results in the blind comparison don’t look like they do in real life. This is mainly because location services aren’t available. Additionally, the challenge doesn’t allow for news searches, image searches or reverse image searches which can be pretty useful.
I’d be interested to see real-time stats on who’s winning. The Bing landing page says that people choose Bing Web results over Google nearly 2 to 1 in blind comparison tests but with our internal tests and some other tests online, I just find that hard to believe.
Personally, what I learned in this challenge is that Bing works just as well as Google – but I’m a Google girl, living in a Google world (and a creature of habit). I’m already signed into Google all day for my email, calendar, reader and more, and I use Chrome so I think I’m going to continue to use Google for search.
Have you taken the Bing It On Challenge? Which did you choose?
I love October 31 – Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. The idea of portraying your beloved masked superhero, honoring your favorite professional athlete, acting as a princess or even dressing up as a cowboy on a horse (children from the daycare in our building just trick-or-treated to our office and a little boy wore this costume – hands down the best of the day thus far), gives us a break from reality that we could all benefit from. Not just for the kids who dress up, but also for adults who can spend an evening enjoying a neighborhood full of kids, laughter and friendly hauntings.
I’m long past the days of dressing up myself, so in between answering the constant rings of the doorbell, I instead get comfortable on the couch and watch a scary movie. Trying to plan for tonight, I realized that Google is having some fun of its own with movies. If you haven’t noticed, check out the search engine’s Google Doodle today and you’ll see an interactive spooky scene. Click around and you’ll meet some friendly creatures. Be sure your sound is on, and click away! When you’re done with that, try typing in the name of your favorite scary movie…you’ll find some interactive fluttering bats on the right hand side of the results page.
Anyway, I thought it was cute and wanted to share. Have a fun, safe and spooky Halloween!
- Mary Evans