You can control some of the information flowing past you by using a news reader. You subscribe to news or RSS feeds and use the reader, often an app, to grab the latest. Listen while we discuss some of the tools you can use to stay on top of whatever topics you want to follow.
View Transcript Speaker Key: PB Phil Brown, DW David Whelan
PB: Hi, it’s Phil Brown, and I’m here with David Whelan. Today we are going to talk about newsreaders.
DW: You may have heard the term news feeds before, and that
is a slightly different technology. Today we are talking about apps
that bring you news that have been aggregated from publisher-provided
news feeds; these are your newspapers and magazines - things like that
rather than specific topics that you would follow.
PB: When we say apps, they are not just available on a
smart phone or a tablet. They are also available on desktops and
DW: Right. The difference is that they tend to be things
that are provided for you. You subscribe like you would subscribe to a
magazine rather than customizing using key words and other topics.
PB: So how do they work?
DW: The easiest way to describe it is that you get the app
or visit a website that has the news on it, choose the subscriptions
that you want to use, and start to read the news. The next time you
come back, the information inside the newsreader will have updated by
pulling down information from your subscriptions so that you always get
the latest information on your topic from those particular magazines or
PB: And the obvious question would be, aren’t they the same as an RSS feed?
DW: In some cases you will find that an RSS feed and a
newsreader will have the same content because the publisher is
providing the same information. The difference is that the RSS is
something that you can customize and sometimes drill down further into a
website with. Typically with the publisher-provided aggregate news you
are getting a slice that they want to provide to you. You may be able
to choose not to have sports, for example, or not to have
entertainment, but for the most part you will get whatever the
publishers decided they want to push out through that channel.
PB: One of the formerly popular newsreaders was Google reader.
DW: Right, and I think newsreaders have really come into
their own, especially on smart phones and tablets. You can access them
on your desktop, but thinking about your smart phone or tablet as a
consumption device where you are consuming information from places using
apps like Zirca, Pulse or Zite will be an easy way for you to
subscribe once and then have news sent to you. It may allow you to
receive news you would not otherwise come across because it is not
selected by you so much as it’s selected by the publisher.
PB: Right, you’re selecting the topic type. Maybe it’s a
technology feed that you’re following or a law feed that you’re
following, and that’s most of the choice that you get, but what gets
aggregated is actually chosen by someone else.
DW: That’s right. Flipboard does it a little more
fine-tuned than others. With Flipboard you get the subscriptions that
you would normally sign up for with any news tool, but then you can also
add RSS feeds if you want to and mix those into your information. And
then you can also sign in with a social media account like Twitter or
Facebook and the people that you follow, the sorts of things that
they’re sharing will appear in your Flipboard feed, so it’s another way
to get access to your social media accounts.
PB: And Flipboard is a fairly common or fairly popular application that is on various tablets, phones and so on.
DW: Right. They have partnerships with some major
publishers. Just this week - it’s December 2013 - they announced a
partnership with Thompson Reuters, so they’ll be pulling in all the
information that Thompson Reuters has decided to put into their channel.
PB: Right, and one of the things with Flipboard is that it
is a very visual newsreader. There is a lot of video content and visual
content as well.
DW: There is another newsreader called News360, which is
not as fancy. Flipboard is one of the nicest apps you can use to read
news, but I like News360 because it allows you to get into very
nitty-gritty topics like data mining and privacy, which aren’t as easy
to access through some of the other newsreaders. The News360 staff is
actually hand curating all its information in addition to their machine
algorithm, so you really get some news and topics that you wouldn’t
necessarily expect to get from your standard news feed.
PB: Right. Will any of these readers get you behind the paywall?
DW: Some of them seem to. For example, you can follow some
of the paywall content using Google Currents, which is a Google app,
and you subscribe to the channels that have been provided by
publishers, and there aren’t a whole lot. There are only a few hundred,
but some of those are paywall content, and they’ve just rolled out a
new product called Google Play Newsstand, which replaces their old
magazine product. In addition to the limited channel that you can get
through Google Currents you can almost get a full website from paywall
content sites like the New York Times and the Economist Financial
Times. The difference is that once you get to the snippet or the teaser
for the content when you click through, if you don’t have an account,
then they’ll get you.
PB: They’ll offer you a subscription.
DW: There you go.
PB: Now, these can be quite useful for aggregating content
and, as you said, you can often come up with content that you wouldn’t
have thought to have searched for.
DW: Right. The real benefit of a newsreader like this, and
again contrasting it with the RSS feeds where you’re selecting most of
the content pretty finely, the news app or the news tool can expose you
and get you outside your filter bubble so that things that you hadn’t
even thought would appear in a particular publisher’s channel will
appeal to you merely because you didn’t realize the content was there.
PB: And it will… I know from playing with Flipboard a bit
that you can pull down content from Facebook or people’s blogs. I mean,
you can get the content from almost anywhere.
DW: Right, and because these tools have been conceived in a
social media kind of environment, almost all of these have ways for
easily sharing to other people you know and sending out to your
Twitter, Facebook or other social media accounts.
PB: All right. Thanks, David.
DW: Thank you, Phil.
PB: That’s our look at newsreaders.