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Stephen Hackett's weblog about Apple, Apple history, technology, journalism and design.

On Twitter as an RSS Alternative

Earlier today, Google announced that Reader is going away on July 1.

This is a big deal, and just about everyone has something to say about it. Most nerds I follow are upset.

Marco Arment has an interesting take:

It may suck in the interim before great alternatives mature and become widely supported, but in the long run, trust me: this is excellent news.

As Shawn Blanc points out, there are several alternatives already in the works, and hopefully Marco’s vision of what will happen plays out.

But what if no great alternatives come to light?

Many people already use Twitter as their RSS replacement. In fact, I can’t help but think that Twitter’s rise in popularity had a direct impact on Google Reader’s decline. For my part, however, I hate using Twitter like this. RSS is nice because everything comes in flooding in, but stops, waiting on me to hit “Mark All As Read.” On the other hand, tweets stream by, endlessly, without regard to what I — as the user — am doing. If something goes by, it’s gone, unless I sync my timeline or read back until the point I left off.

Google would want us all to follow sites in Google+, and while that has similar issues as Twitter, Google+ lacks anything near a critical mass to be a decent RSS replacement.

It will be interesting to see if developers jump to action to fill the hole Google is creating in the workflow of lots of people, or if people settle on using Twitter feeds.

I sure hope it’s the former that plays out.