Google Reader fallout (aka, "The Day After")

I was one of several hundred people who blogged their first-run reactions to Google Reader, the company's new RSS aggregator.  Proving the marketing concept that the vast majority of people satisfied with a product will remain apathetic towards it while people wishing to complain will do so in great numbers, the blogosphere was flooded with comments from people voicing their stark opposition to the aesthetics, program design, features, instructions (or lack thereof), performance, and all sorts of things about Google Reader.

One of the the things I picked up on from reading analysis of the service was that, "Reader also employs algorithms that learn your content preferences and prioritizes content accordingly."  This is something we'd naturally have to pickup on over time as the program adapted to our personal usage styles and patterns, so the jury for the moment is out on how this will play with the community, but it's a neat gimmick in theory.  That's something neither Litefeeds nor RSS Bandit do for me at the moment. 

I also wondered about the "relevance" sort option, thinking that this would be more grouping by feed than by actual correlation between the often disparate content in my feeds.  And I still maintain that we should be able to mark items as unread en masse, not being forced to page through them or read them to get them out of our unread list.  I also think the ability to tag someone else's feed is neat - allowing you to add a new layer of metadata to that which may already have it.

I've taken the time to learn how to use the program a bit better, and while it's still a bit of a shift in how I'm used to getting blogs, podcasts and Flickr photostreams.  It may be momentarily awkward, but change ususally is.

The community has brought to painful light the single glaring flaw: Google Reader's one hiccup seems to be inordinate waiting times while the program imports an OPML list.  But that'll hopefully be fixed.  I've also discovered several features since then, like being able to preview a feed before permanently subscribing to it, and  pretty neat support for podcasts - being able to listen to a file within an embedded player (as a streamed MP3/Flash audio) or download its source MP3 directly.

Having suffered through the first criticism salvo, let's now let cooler heads prevail and curb the subjectivisim with which we present our feedback.  If you absolutely loathe the service and are willing to compose multiple paragraphs to express it, write at least one other to offer remediation strategies.  Show how good of a user/developer you are by recommmending a fix.  One of the things that's common when people react to a product is to be overly negative, just to prove they can, without suggesting a strategy to get better.  Complaints are still valued in product development, but pure bitch-fests lose their weight over time.

3 Comments

  • "Reader also employs algorithms that learn your content preferences and prioritizes content accordingly."



    If this is actually true, I'd switch in a heartbeat. There is just too much great stuff to read out there anymore and finding the time to finger through all of it is horrible. A feature like prioritizing my feeds for me (or by how I tell it) would be the single best feature ever written, IMHO. I'd actually read more blogs!

  • Something does seem wrong at this point, though. I search for blogs on 'asp.net' and get 0 results. Google should know about pages that feature ASP.NET content and have an RSS link.

  • Maybe try searching on 'weblogs.asp.net'? When I do searches against my own blog with Google Search, I use 'site:weblogs.asp.net/jasonsalas'

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