Google Reader (RSS) v/s Twitter

Google Reader (and RSS) is still a more convenient way to consume newsI have not doubt regular readers of this blog would have me to be something of a Google hater. Helped in no small way by my posts lauding Bing or my article on Livemint encouraging the use of alternative search avenues or questioning the usefulness of Google Search Instant Previews. But this is far from the truth. I have already wrote a post where I argued how difficult it would be to give up on Google completely. There are too many good products from their stable to ignore.

Which brings me to this post and the thought in mind. Is RSS dying and being taken over by Twitter streams? Many would seem to argue so. And I too think that in the long run it may just be the case. After all anything that is published today via RSS is surely enough published on Twitter. And that appears quicker on Twitter than any RSS reader. Moreover, you can follow up easily on related news doing a quick search. All without leaving your preferred Twitter access interface.

But I still am enamored with Google Reader. It is definitely the best web based RSS reader out there. And if you really consume news via RSS, an offline application makes no sense. You can’t move around with it. I literally have hundreds of feeds subscribed in my Google Reader account that I count on as my primary source of news on everything that interests me.

And I did try to switch to Twitter for the same for a while. But I came back to Google Reader in double quick time. Why? Convenience. Even if I do not get the complete view of the article in Reader, I at least get a significant excerpt of the article to decide whether or not to read it. All without clicking a link. But on Twitter all I get is a short link that I need to click to check if it is worth reading. Except when the text description accompanying the tweet is good.

The next problem is for me a bigger issue. In Reader I always know how many unread items I have and I can sort them oldest to newest or vice-versa as the specific topic would interest me. In Twitter I need to remember the last tweet I had read. For example, if before going to sleep for the night I have a look at my Twitter stream I need to remember the last tweet I saw. So that next morning I can stop reading when I reach that tweet. Of course organizing the stream using lists does make life a little simpler, but it is still the same approach.

So until Twitter can remediate these two problems, I am sticking to Reader for the time being and keeping the micro-blogging service as an alternative source. (There are some iPad apps that I would guess alleviates these problems, but then I do not have an iPad.) Twitter is still a very useful service but it just can’t satisfy my news consumption patters and requirements. Yet.