Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reading Rainbow of RSS!

Back in the "old days", before these new fangled sites like Facebook and Google+, people maintained a social network of blogs. Everyone had their own site, and they would update them with pics, short updates, and yes, fully written blog entries with more than 140 characters. In order to not go crazy checking dozens of links every morning we all needed a way to get notified whenever someone posted something new. The most common tool for this was RSS. Using an RSS reader, you would subscribe to people's blogs, and then you only had to keep your reader tool running to get notifications when something new was posted. Plus, many news sites, both mainstream and tech focused, used RSS to publish their content to the world. I became an RSS junkie and have my Google Reader notifier installed on every device I can.

Things change though, and recently as I was perusing my Google Reader list I was reminded about how many sites publish their articles automatically to Twitter, Facebook, and often to G+. A big tech news site just announced that if you "circle" them in G+, they'll publish all their stories there as well as Twitter and Facebook. Since you can customize your notifications in most of these tools, you could get instant updates when stories are posted to your networks.

In a conversation with a friend of mine we also talked about how he uses Twitter almost the same way I use RSS, to get notified of new postings on news sites. I realized, that in fact I had probably been using Twitter in much the same way. I mostly follow organizations on it, and so I usually just see news stories, not personal posts.

So that got me thinking, has RSS passed it's prime? Many of the big web based RSS sites like bloglines have gone the way of the dodo, and even services like Google Reader aren't getting the love that they used to. So I put the question to a larger audience, what do you use? Are you still hanging on to RSS like me?

Friday, January 11, 2013

CES 2013

This past week was a big week for the tech industry, with the holding of the Consumer Electronics Show 2013. Recent years have been a bit 'meh', but this year really had some interesting tech show up. In particular the theme seemed to be changes coming to our living room TV's.

Much of what we saw this year revolved around ways to get entertainment to our TV's with set top boxes that tie into other services, or all new TV technology like 4k (Ultra High Defenition). Personally, I'm less excited about UHD, since I just bought a new TV, and am quite happy with it. Plus, I don't think we have the internet bandwidth for UHD content yet.

The really cool advances are less technological for me, but structural. One of the things I love about internet delivered entertainment, is the ability to control what you watch a LOT more than the old days of flipping cable channels. I love the idea of discovering a new show, downloading an entire season and devouring it as quickly as I choose to. Or the notion of season passes, where, the morning after a show "airs" I get an email that my latest episode is ready for me whenever (and on whatever device) I want to watch it. This type of flexibility in how I consume my entertainment is what I'm looking for, and honestly I think it brings us back around to the "old days", when entertainment meant picking up a good book.

In many ways, books are the ultimate in flexible entertainment. You purchase a book (or even an e-book), and it's available for you to start reading whenever you want. You can read a little bit, or stay up way too late devouring page after page of a gripping story. You can take a book (or even an e-book) with you, and read it in different places, on the way to work, or on your lunch break, or in bed. This is the type of flexibility I'm looking for in my media.

We got another small taste of this at CES this year with the emphasis on new TV's, lots of tablets for watching entertainment, and devices like the Qube. Or even with press releases about new ways to get digital copies of DVD's and new service coming to AppleTVs. I'm looking forward to more changes in store in the coming year.