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    Entries in reader (3)

    Wednesday
    Jul032013

    The end of Reader and the trouble with filters

    I am not sure how you managed to find this post today, but as most of us have heard by now, the demise of the once dominant feed reading platform Google Reader means you're certainly not reading it there.

    Google Reader was for me, the primary mechanism where I discovered, (via the previously sunsetted 'shared items' feature), consumed, saved for future reference, and shared interesting content out to my friends and social networks. Reader was almost always an open tab for me in Chrome (Google please don't get any silly ideas about axing Chrome), and I easily checked it five or ten times a day.  Most nights, the last thing I'd do was run through the 400 or so feed subscriptions I had to make sure I had not missed anything important, seen what my friends and colleagues were writing about, and most importantly for me, saved items for possible use as sources or ideas for blog posts, articles, HR Happy Hour Shows, etc.

    Reader, more so than any other mechanism, became the primary filter through which I interacted with information and experienced what was going on in the world.

    Sure over time, other and arguably better news and information tools began emerging, primarily developed to take advantage of the display and touch capabilities of iPads and smart phones. News readers like Pulse and Flipboard, and my personal favorite Zite, have taken news and content discovery and consumption into the modern technology age. They look great, they are fun to use, and they continue to get better at presenting content in personalized ways. Zite, when given feedback in the form of 'likes' and 'dislikes', over time will 'learn' what content you'd probably be most interested in, and will then serve up more of the content it expects you want to see, and less of what you don't. 

    So while I still relied on Reader as my primary source of news and information, tools like Pulse and Zite began to fill in some of the gaps and problems that Reader, (and really my use of Reader), exposed. Namely, unless you actively sought out new and different sources of information, you'd pretty easily fall into the trap of reading the same kinds of information sources all the time, and perhaps more importantly, you'd end up reading (again mostly), the same things everyone else you knew was reading too.

    And if you spend a lot of time hanging out with the same kinds of people that read the same kinds of things, well, that all can get kind of boring kind of quickly. 

    The demise of Reader should not simply be an exercise in finding and replicating how we used Reader in some other tool. Rather it should be an impetus for all of us that love to read, that love to be challenged by new ideas, that are looking for perspectives that are different from our own, (and that of our friends), to more actively seek out and share something that is just a little bit different, just a little out of our comfort zone, and maybe something that is not the same thing everyone else is reading too.

    Since Reader is gone, we have a chance and a reason to think a little bit more expansively, and to loosen up the filters that we were comfortable with, and that we applied to ourselves and to how we experience the world.

    What are you reading that is different or interesting or makes you a little uncomfortable? 

    Thursday
    Mar142013

    Google Reader: The shelf-life of formerly good advice

    I've been having a instructive and fun time this week out at Ultimate Software's annual user conference called Ultimate Connections. It is always great to learn more about what one of the major technology providers in HR space is doing, to hear from and meet some real customers and practitioners, and even attempt to share some of my own ideas with the attendees.

    Yesterday I had that chance, along with the great John Sumser from HRexaminer and Ed Frauenheim from Workforce.com (and perhaps more famously of the Frauenheim Disclosure), in a conference session titled 'How to Stay Current on HR Trends'. The session was meant to be a kind or survey of tools, sources of information, time management approaches, and overall recommendations for the busy HR pro on how he or she can try to keep up and remain informed about the industry when faced with the simultaneous crush of mountains of content combined with a 'day job' that gets more time-crunched by the week.

    In the session, which was yesterday at 1:45PM Pacific Time, both John and I sung the praises of feed readers, specifically Google Reader, as a fantastic tool for the busy HR pro to try and sort, filter, scan, and consume professional content. I even tool it a step further, calling out smartphone apps like Flipboard and Zite, (my personal favorite), that help curate news and information and package it up attractively for on-the-go reading. Both of these apps are much more valuable and relevant when they have a Google Reader integration to provide a rich source of content that these apps find ways to make much user-friendly and provide a great interface.

    At 1:45 PM I was advocating for the HR pros in the room to give Google Reader a chance. At 5PM when I got back to my room, turned on the laptop, and IMMEDIATELY fired up Google Reader and BOOM - this message smacks me in the chops -

    Clicking 'Learn more' took me to a short blog post on the the Google support site that basically said Reader is being shut down on July 1, and had a link to another Google post that cited a decline in Reader usage and the company's desire to focus more energy on fewer products as the drivers behind the decision to kill off Reader.

    Reader has been around a really long time by Web standards, since 2005 or so, but (and as we saw in our session at the conference where very few attendees said they used Reader), never really caught on with the mainstream web users. And with the incredible growth of Facebook and Twitter, (and more and more LinkedIn), as sources of news and information, setting up and maintaining a deep, diverse, and relevant set of Reader subscriptions probably seemed like to big a chore for most users, and really boring for others.

    Either way, Google Reader is going away, and probably at least a few of the apps and services that had come to rely on a user's Reader subscriptions for the bulk of their content. Sure, there are other feed reading tools around - and perhaps even some new innovation will hit the space that Google is leaving, but make no mistake even in decline, Google Reader was the 500 pound gorilla in the space.

    I feel bad about the impending loss of my favorite tool on the web.

    I feel even worse that about 3 hours prior to the announcement, I advocated in the most strident way possible for a room full of hard working HR pros to get their Google Reader set up.

    That was good advice at the time I gave it.

    Now it's just formerly good advice.

    I hope the rest of the things I said in the session will stay relevant a little longer.

    Friday
    Dec142012

    Cleaning out the attic: A Few Friday links

    Some quick links to a few interesting reads on a 'feels-like-it-should-be-the-holiday-break-but-we-are-not-quite-there-yet-Friday'.  Mostly these are items that have been sitting as perpetual open tabs in Chrome or as 'starred' items in Google Reader for a while and that I thought might be subject matter for the blog, but I just never got around to using them.

    In no particular order of importance or relevance:

    Most infographics kind of stink. This one, covering the T-shirt history of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory is awesome. 

    Did 'Big Data' give you a big headache in 2012?  Well, you are not alone. For a very readable and brief look at Big Data for the rest of us check out A Veteran Mad Man Tries to Figure Out the Point if Big Data in Advertising.

    The McRib is coming back! - And it looks like it will be with us for the Holidays!

    From Retronaut - some very cool British WWI Recruitment posters

    There are always quite a few 'The High Cost of a Bad Hire' stories kicking around the HR blogosphere at any time, but few of those carry an $11M price tag like Auburn University has to shell out to bid farewell to their football coaching staff.

    If you don't have big plans for the holidays, or just don't like to cook, you can always go for the 'Self-Heating Holiday Dinner in a Can' this year.

    I have always held that basketball is the greatest sport of them all. This (long-ish) piece from Wired, Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success, breaks it down more scientifically, but arrives at the same conclusion - basketball is the greatest sport of all. 

    The birthrate in the US has sunk to its lowest level since 1920.  I guess we will all be working longer into our old age.

    Not a fan of Klout or other attempts to measure 'influence?' Well you may not be able to simply ignore what you don't like (or understand). According to this HBR piece, the future of enterprise influence analytics will be inside the organization.

    Let me know what you're reading!

    That's it from me for a Friday - have a great weekend everyone.