Previously broached here. In the interim I’ve chased links and tested apps, both ad infinitum and, especially, ad nauseam. So let’s plunge into my opinionated findings.
First, I rule out the various news apps and sites. I get my news just fine from the print version of The New York Times, and save items via my digital subscription. If there’s a breaking news story I want to follow, and elections come to mind these days, I do visit online sites, in no particular order. I also subscribe to daily digests of news analysis from Vox dot com. What about the omnipresent ios News app? Takes forever to update with new items, and way too many of those. If you have a modicum of interest in any kind of content, you’ll lose it fast with this app. Too much pain, not enough gain. Frankly, I’d rather watch paint dry.
News is one kind of content. But what I’m really concerned with here is essays long and short. Analyses, discussions, reviews. What follows obviously reflects my interests and disinterests. By no means complete. De gustibus…etc.
Two stand out from am otherwise dreary lot. There was a third, which would have been a clear winner until it was taken over (infra). The two still standing would be Feedly and Nuzzel.
Feedly is a roll-your-own magazine(s) situation; you indicate some initial interests and start browsing and adding to those interests in groups called, gasp, magazines. You can make multiple magazines, and most users dodo. The interface is pretty and functional, and it’s always clear what you’re doing. There are two issues. The first is understanding how Feedly changes what the feed offers you. You can like items you’ve found, or specifically ask for more like it. Or none of the above. I’ve found no way to keep a balance using any of those methods. The second issue is that there’s just everything: tweets, drek from the far corners of the web jostling with first-rate articles. Things get better if you gain some friends and follow some as well, but how you gain them is a hit or miss proposition; very few from my Twitter feed are on Feedly. Feedly took over a wonderful app, Zite. Which I used exclusively until the takeover . Zite remedied all of the items I’ve just complained of. If Zite still existed, I wouldn’t touch Feedly. A pis-aller, but an okay one. Feedly has a web interface too, but it’s downright overwhelming. I literally never use it.
Nuzzel. Very useful if you’ve got a good Twitter feed. I have just under 2K followers and about 1.4K people I follow. It presents topics they’ve tweeted about. The interface is polished, it’s easy to browse; thus, a pleasure to use. They have a web site, sort off, but you really need to use the app to get the most.I don’t miss a day with Nuzzel, unlike Feedly which I sort of have to remember to use. Downside: without a substantial Twitter feed, I’m not sure how useful Nuzzel can be.
A very traditional alternative
Arts and Letters Daily, found here. It’s curated, but without any of the bells and whistles you might expect from ios. A wonderful and intimidating selection of articles. You have to save and share in the traditional way from whatever way your online…they have no app. Their RSS feed is pathetic. The only problem: you can spend a whole morning here. Thus, you may not need to roll your won via RSS (infra) if this is to your liking. They have a Twitter presence, which doesn’t list everything, but more than the RSS feed. I always find at least a dozen items of interest each time I visit. Cheap advice: make sure you’ve got a Pocket or Instapaper or Evernote account; you WILL find things you want to read and save. Bottom line: I love this site to pieces.
Rolling your own with RSS
Sounds good: in one place you can see what’s new of various web-only sites. Not so good: those feeds often do not contain all the new content, but only a selection. The sites that I like, I really like and want to see everything that’s new. Rock and hard place issue. You may not share my desire for comprehensive listings, in which case you’ll be fine.
My next post in this series will have more on RSS: readers, and links I like. Stay tuned.