Here’s A Quick Way To Replace Google Reader

Google Reader is getting shut down. I thought it was the end of the world. But thankfully there are at least two awesome alternatives to replace Google Reader with.

If you cruise over to their sites you’ll be up and running in no time.

  1. Feedly, which I am using as my RSS feed workbench of sorts, lets you choose different themes and imports all of your feeds automatically.
  2. YoleoReader, which I am using occasionally because I think the design is amazing, also imports all of your feeds automatically.

Google has really stuffed up by taking Google Reader offline. I recommend diversifying your RSS reader just in case your new favourite dies. I currently alternate between them and go “mark all as read” to catchup with the other one.

I don’t subscribe to lots of blogs but I read pretty much everything that comes through my RSS feeds. Using Tweetdeck is no replacement at all in terms of how I consume content.

They literally had almost every thought leader who matters around the world and access to all of the content they consumed via RSS feeds, and didn’t take advantage of that.

Google Reader getting killed is what happens when corporations get massive. Innovation and cool products get destroyed in the service of the corporation.

I am very happy with Feedly and sometimes YoleoReader – I suggest you try them out and quick – 1 July is the kill date for Google Reader.

Stuff Nation Sucks But Will Slow Fairfax Death Spiral

Stuff Nation sucks because it is simply depressing content to consume. The submissions to the assignments posted by Stuff Nation editors are a fascinating insight into how the median voter thinks. The comments are even worse. But I think that Stuff Nation will eventually make Fairfax a fortune, relative to the decline of the dinosaur print industry.

One of the differences between Stuff Nation and the blogosphere is that bloggers seem to post more interactive content. We link to data, journal articles, opinion pieces and even source material like interviews if we’re that advanced in our blogging. But we are content production and content consumption outliers – political nerds, news nerds, sports nerds, finance nerds. We are not the target market for advertisers paying the bills of sites like Stuff.

Fairfax have been very clever in getting social media accounts linked to Stuff Nation accounts. Why? Because every time someone gets a submission received, they’ll boost their traffic slightly. It is easier to get thousands of people sending an extra couple of dozen pageviews – we have to remember that not everyone consumes content at the level or frequency of the blogosphere bubble.

There is evidence that when people read a newspaper, they tend to look for something that confirms what they already believe. What executives at Fairfax probably realised is that even though their journalists and columnists were producing content that many people liked, they had nowhere near the level of engagement that 17 Hottest Puppy Outfits would get on BuzzFeed.

Giving ordinary Kiwis a platform to share their opinion is like a self-reinforcing traffic machine. There is also a higher likelihood that the whole process can be manipulated by trolls or astroturfing operations. Considering how lobbyists can get hundreds or thousands of select committee submissions that use the same phrases, it’s possible to get thousands of submissions to things like Stuff Nation past the editors who are unlikely to be paid enough to care.

Stuff Nation and the Stuff website itself are stuck in “post and forget” mode. Other news organisations like Reuters, Quartz and even USA Today have made the move towards “flow” content where there are constant updates throughout the day for different content streams.

Because Fairfax needs to make money from online advertising somehow, anything that increases the amount of content they produce is a good thing. Stuff Nation is a cheap way of getting enormous amounts of additional content available at almost $0 save the additional server and data expenses. It is easily to hide an advertorial when there are 100 posts a day as opposed to 10.

I am sure that Fairfax will eventually ditch the old school Stuff website and integrate everything with Stuff Nation. Sprinkled amongst the assignments and the editorial content from a very small number of Fairfax journalists will be “sponsored assignments”.

Because most people have adblock installed and the constant increase in banner ad supply driving prices down to really cheap levels per CPM, sponsored content – like advertorials – is the only way for them to monetise that content.

How does this fit in with trends in journalism? Well, algorithms can produce stories indistinguishable from what an entry level journalist would produce with the same inputs. There is no need to pay someone $30,000 a year when an upfront investment in IT enables you to get rid of most of your newsroom.

If you are a content producer – journalist, reporter, columnist, editor, whatever – being inside the matrix is likely to be a net negative for your lifetime earnings. Having your own domain name and your own self-publishing projects is likely to be more profitable than locking up all of your content with Fairfax or APN or whoever you want to work for.

Stuff Nation sucks, but it is sadly the way of the future. The economics of online advertising dictate pandering to the lowest common denominator if you are targeting the mass market. The low entry costs for competitors mean that there is no guarantee that Stuff will be one of the top news websites in 2 years time let alone 10 years time.

Fortunately, the economics of the internet permit the long tail – the niche content producers – to earn a decent living. The value of journalism has been determined for 99% of the world’s journalists – it’s worthless unless you are the winner in the market like the NBR, Financial Times, Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal.

How Localisation Can Miss The Point

I’m a frequent visitor to BusinessInsider. They recently started an Australian edition, and now you get automatically redirected to that version. You can get into the US edition by clicking above the right of the navigation bar.

I don’t want to visit the Australian Edition of BusinessInsider! BusinessInsider is where I consume news and US markets, US technology and random stuff like slideshows of aircraft carriers and 11 Things I Didn’t Know About Stevie Cohen. It is definitely the junkiest business news aggregator but that’s what makes it great – you always find something relevant because its coverage is so broad.

Localisation can miss the point when your foreign visitors are there for the fact that you are a foreign source of information.

When I visit the Financial Times “logged out”, I’m redirected to the Asian edition of the FT. I love my pink paper, and when I visit the FT I want to read things primarily about the United Kingdom. If I wanted to read about Asia I’d probably go to Bloomberg or the South China Morning Post through Victoria’s PressDisplay subscription.

When I visit the Wall Street Journal, I’m redirected to the Asian edition. While most of the WSJ is gated, there are some good opinion columns and blogs that satisfy the “long tail” interests I have like how Chapter 11 bankruptcies function and following white collar crime cases. Again, if I had a subscription there I’d be able to choose my preferences.

All in all, localisation misses the point for me. I visit foreign news sources because they are foreign and I have a specific desire to consume content from the country they are published in. Redirecting the WSJ to the Asian edition is as useful to me as the National Business Review having a “Europe Edition” if I visited their online edition from the South of France.

I’m sure someone has written a script that stops sites redirecting you based on where you are. Until then, the main solution is to either ignore the website that redirects you or pay for an account. I am almost at the point where the benefit of a Financial Times subscription would exceed its cost!

When you think about it – that’s probably their intention. “If we thwart the ability of foreign potential subscribers to easily access the content a decent percentage will stump up for a subscription”.