I’m done with feeds (and probably gonna be done with flipboard in 12 months)

Call it problem of plenty, but I was never able to manage the volume of RSS Feeds. Life was easy when it was just few feeds but aggregators put the nail in the coffin. It was more of a user behaviour problem than a technology or an aggregator problem. You went to a blog, liked a post and bam you subscribed to the feed with a simple bookmarklet. Until 12-14 months ago, I had close to 1000 feeds in Google Reader, which I pared to 100.

Then around a year ago, I switched to flipboard. I stopped going to the feeds altogether and flipboard became the daily window to the fragmented world of news, views and commentary. I love flipboard.


My current newsstand with Wired, Fortune, Popular Science, National Geographic and NYT

Then came magazines on iPad. In last 3 months, I subscribed to a few of my favorite magazines viz. Wired, National Geographic, Popular Science and Fortune (in that order). Now that these magazines are part of my newsstand, my flipboard visits have reduced. I spend time reading detailed, researched articles with supporting facts and data rather than single shot commentary from everybody else who is pretty much adding 2-cents on an already existing news.

There are two trends:

1. Desire for curated news. We are swimming in low quality content. Moreover, a lot of content is either a regurgitation of existing source and is a 2-center done by amateurs. A lot of time is wasted finding new-ness and uniqueness in a piece.

2. Magazine-like flipping experience. iPad (and now others) is giving this cool flpping experience which makes it look like a real magazine. This is a non-point and click user experience akin to reading on a print medium.

A bonus trend, which was predicted long time ago in flicks and popular science fiction, is that digital magazines and newspapers only now have started to become e-newspapers and e-magazines. Earlier they were HTML versions of print and sometimes even more horribly as PDF. WSJ still does PDF style of it’s daily delivery. If you haven’t seen this new experience which has emerged and can’t gauge what I’m talking about then go and download Wired Magazine’s iPad app and try a sample monthly issue. It totally blows the mind with embedded videos, interactive advertising and content which is “fluid”. Wired even converted it’s inaugural magazine issue into digital which is equally amazing. This is the future of reading on iPad and other tablets.

These magazines were close to dead, in-fact print was touted dead many times and even recently. However, what may be dead is print but not the producers of print. Magazines and newspapers gonna be reborn as digital and the vision of e-paper may truly be near. If you remember the subway scene from Minority Report where a man overlooking Tom Cruise is seen reading a self-updating USA Today newspaper, that future is already with us, the only difference is the form factor. We do not have a flexible broadsheet but an iPad.

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  • Great post, Indus! Something pops in mind though – what set’s Flipboard apart is the fact that it’s a content aggregator.. a one stop shop. What it obviously lacked was access to premium content. But with NY Times-Flipboard tie up and many more planned.. this could soon change. In fact, I’m sure Newsstand will move towards aggregating all our subscriptions too.. that could be a game changer.

    • It definitely is an aggregator, but RSS was flat and a lot of context was lost. The visual richness of flipboard one ups everybody else. 

    • Yeah.. RSS readers are stone age in comparison 🙂

  • Chris Jackson

    If I were done with feeds, I would not have seen this post. 🙂 However, I feel that my reading experience is not optimal either.  I think there needs to be a mix of content from feeds of individuals that I’m interested in and news from the established magazine and newspaper companies.  I agree that Google Reader is not the ideal solution, but I feel like products such as Flipboard also fall short, especially in pulling content from the “little guys”. adf471587879rzq

    • The argument has a merit, Chris. However, the guys who you really wanna read were getting lost in the volume of frequently update content. People based subscription was what Friendfeed attempted but then it had the same volume problem. 

  • Mark V.

    Nice post. Wired and many other magazines (New Yorker, Vanity Fair, etc.) worked with Adobe on their app. Check out the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, cool stuff: http://www.adobe.com/products/digital-publishing-suite-family.html

    • Wired’s inaugural issue converted for iPad is simply amazing with a lot of trivia.  

  • Jeet Singh

    Nice post Indus. Newsstand really brings that minority report type future closer. I currently use handful of rss for a quick daily dose and stick to the higher quality curated content from newsstand for more depth. For me, flipboard takes too much time. Wired app is cool.

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