When news broke yesterday that Google was dumping GoogleReader there were two kinds of reactions from bloggers noted Bruce Carton at Legal Blog Watch: Those for whom it was the end of the world and those who shrugged.
Carton was in full panic mode. I was a shrugger. I stopped using my RSS feed about a year or two ago, as it simply died a slow death for me.
And that’s because most anyone that I would have followed on RSS is placing links to their blog posts on Twitter. And Twitter also had the advantage of having (short) comments on those blog posts, which might also give you an idea if something was interesting or contentious. RSS was not just redundant, but inferior. (And, as I noted the other day, it can make you a better writer of legal briefs.)
Between Twitter, RSS, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, blog post comments, YouTube, listservs, all manner of open discussion forums and whatever else is incubating now that I don’t know about, participating online can easily be a 24/7 job/hobby/distraction. But I have a real job and a real family, as most of you do, and I have to pick and choose. RSS lost. I also have an account at LinkedIn that I rarely check/use, I stopped using forums years ago, and I haven’t yet figured out what to do with Google+, or had the time to explore it.
I haven’t always been a fan of Twitter, and ripped it right after it came out. But I’ve come to appreciate its utility, an appreciation that comes only by carefully screening those I might follow.
When someone follows me, I generally look at their last three tweets (or “twits” as Scott Greenfield quite appropriately calls them). If those tweets are about a local accident, in the desperate hope the victim will log on to Twitter and find this brilliance, I know this is not a person to follow. So too with anyone in legal marketing. I need more phone calls and emails from these hucksters like I need a hole in the head.
But worse still are those that respond to an individual with something like “Ha!”, apparently forgetting that many others will see this gibberish, not just the one that sent the message being responded to. And even worse are those that write, “Thanks for the RT!” Thanks for sharing your insecurity with me by noting how important an RT is to you.
Why anyone would want this crap clogging their Twitter feed and rendering it useless is beyond me. Links and short comments on relevant stories are what works.
And you know those folks that are following thousands of others? It’s pretty clear such folks are not reading their own Twitter feeds. I don’t give a damn if they follow me or not.
Last year I spoke at a conference on social media down in Washington DC. And a woman that followed after me was hit by an audience question: If someone follows you on Twitter, are you supposed to follow them back? “Yes!” she cried, as that was the polite thing to do. I almost fell off my chair as I recognized the entire audience had just become dumber for having heard this.
Twitter can be a good tool that certainly replaces RSS. Just be sure to carefully cull the list of those you follow. You can follow me if you want (@Turkewitz) but don’t be upset if I don’t follow back. My brain has a limited capacity.
That’s my two pesos. Bruce Carton’s mileage will vary. And remember that no one will ever put the number of your Twitter follows on your headstone.
Elsewhere on the subject:
Really Simple Sign of the Future (Greenfield)