I find myself at a crossroads with new real-time tools and old school methods like RSS. I’m finding myself more drawn into Twitter than ever before for tracking the people and topics I care about most, but I’m always paranoid that I’m missing something brilliant as the news flies by. So I keep Google Reader locked and loaded as backup, only to find myself overwhelmed by 1000+ unread items when I arrive, much of which I’ve seen throughout the day on other services. The real-time web is a thrill ride of instant gratification for the news-obsessed, but the other side of that coin means we’re probably missing more relevant stories than we realize.
How do I reconcile these things? Will real-time tools ever offer the reassurance RSS does for the news junkies among us?
To resolve this tension, I’m experimenting a bit. The new Google+ iPhone app has changed that platform for me. I’ve dabbled with it in the past and use it for work, but now I find it a part of my regular routine. What’s more is that I’m using Circles more effectively to follow my favorite sources than I’ve ever done with lists on Twitter. Makes the streams more manageable and I feel like I am engaging the content more, by +1’ing, commenting and sharing.
Does every source I have in Google Reader use it? No, but I hope that Google finds a way to incorporate that functionality soon. Would be a tremendous improvement over the current, interface, rich with images and sharp, easily read fonts. Has the look and feel of News.me without being a digest of the most popular stories you probably saw repeatedly throughout the day.
The real-time web is like a party inasmuch as you might hear someone across the room say your name, but you can’t make out what they’re saying. It’s distracting. As great as these real-time tools are, none offer the reassurance RSS does, or even a tool as crude as Google Alerts. With RSS, I may be late to that party, but I don’t end up missing it altogether. Some people take solace in the crowdsource method and believe that big news will find them. That’s probably right for the major players in the social web, but what about small stories that are still relevant to those of us who aren’t being spoon-fed links? Isn’t that the point of the whole curation thing? Often times it’s the tiny stories from obscure sources that become the background material for the whoppers that hit the mainstream.
Is there a way to plug the holes in the sieve we call the real-time web? Talk to me, newsies!