Twitter vs. Feed Reading

This weekend, Luis wrote about his information diet1 in the wake of Google Reader’s impending closure. While reading his post, I thought about my own feed reading pattern.

I hear lots of people say that Twitter has replaced feed reading for them. I don’t think that works for me, for several reasons:

  1. I like having a casual relationship with Twitter. I don’t want to feel like I have to read everything in my stream for fear of missing something. On days like today when I have meetings all afternoon, I will completely ignore Twitter.
  2. I don’t want certain stuff in my Twitter feed. There are news sources that I like to skim (then mark all as read) in my feed reader that I don’t want in my Twitter feed. Twitter is still personal to me. Most of the people I follow are folks I am friends with.2 Twitter is an intentional distraction for me and I don’t want it to be more than that.
  3. Feed reading is great for following sites that post infrequently, but have great stuff. This morning’s post by Charles Miller is a great example. In many ways, it’s the best tool I’ve found for what I really want: following interesting people.3

I haven’t made a choice for my next feed reader server-side service yet, but I am happy with Reeder for iOS and Mac so I’m likely to stay with something it is compatible with. At the moment this means Feedbin, but I’m also considering self-hosting something. I’d love an Open Source parsing/crawling back-end that implemented Google Reader’s API; plus Reeder adding support for setting a custom API endpoint URL.

Whatever solution I end up going with, feed reading isn’t going to leave my daily workflow anytime soon.

  1. I had culled my feed list and added a few new sources a few months ago, after letting my sources stagnate for years. 
  2. I use lists to track business acquaintances, topics, etc. 
  3. I would really love, and have played with the idea of building, an app/service that is people centric instead of service/content centric. Aggregate content from social networks, blogs, GitHub activity, etc. and allow me to choose what content from each person I want to subscribe to. Along those lines, I’d love to make my website the owner of that source of data lists… a simple JSON API that returns information about my available content.