My Google Reader subscriptions have gone slightly unread since the sabbatical started – it’s been pretty busy getting around Malaysia and doing all the thing we’ve been trying to do – so I miss my social reading circle. On Google Reader myself and a few friends and relatives share stories – including my friend Damian, my colleague Scot, my cousin Ashvina, my brother Arvind and a few others. Chris and Tom, whilst massively digital, have favoured delicious for social bookmarking so unfortunately our Greader sharing hasn’t quite clicked (although I do follow their bookmarks via RSS…).
I enjoy this social filtering of news for the same reason I enjoy watching the same films or reading the same books as people I know, trust and respect – it’s fun to have things in common to discuss, and to have a shared social/cultural context. My friends and family often share points of interest, of course, which means the filtering is generally more interesting than not.
Unfortunately, the act of using Google Reader and RSS subscriptions lies beyond the ken of most people I know, and the majority of my friends that share links (in itself a minority) do so on Twitter or via Facebook – which I sometimes catch, but due to the volume of stuff that passes through my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter friends lists, I miss most of these. I almost never read stories that are forwarded to me by email, incidentally – when I’m getting through my email the emphasis is productivity and that means prioritizing emails that require some kind of action (a reply, forward, action on my part). I probably need to get the hang of Readitlater.
I’m not sure what I need to make this work better. The downside to convergence to a single platform like Facebook for all your digital interactions is restricting noise. I want personal updates from my friends on Facebook – pictures, events, news, engagements, babies etc. I want news shared via Google Reader. I like debate, insight and breaking news via Twitter and the blogosphere. But whilst I can change my own social media strategy, I can’t change the world. I can but lament that RSS as a technology seems to be something that people see as complex, and so resist using, and continue to quietly evangelise Google Reader to everyone I meet…
Incidentally, I quite like that in the Kindle apps sections of books that have been highlighted by other readers are indicated as you’re reading it. Quite nice to have vital passages or particularly interesting bits pre-selected for additional attention… Social reading of books seems to be the way things are going too!
What do you think about social reading?