Tech

Why Google Reader died and why mobile and social news is replacing it

By Michael Mayday , Jun 07, 2013 09:27 PM EDT

When Google announced the doom of Google Reader in March, the service's dedicated following scrambled to replace it, and save RSS feeds, from the July 1 delete date.

While those RSS fans may have found shelter in Feedly or Digg, their success in replacing Google Reader may not last long. You see, RSS, only barely 14-years-old, is already an outdated form of news consumption.

According to Google, users are now consuming active news  - having news they're interested in pushed to their phones in updates and notification, rather than having to go to an RSS feed to passively browse links. That, according to Google employees interviewed in a Wired report, was another reason why Google decided to kill Google Reader.

"As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process," Richard Gingras, Senior Director, News & Social Products at Google said to Wired in an interview. "Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day - replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day."

The foremost example of Google's new tactic is Google Now, which presents users with information relevant to them based on their consumption habits. Combined with Google+ for leisure reading, Google employees say, and you can access all the news you want to know without being flooded with headlines.

But that may not mean that RSS is dead, at least not yet. Digg, a once mighty social news website, is looking to introduce its RSS reader to fill the hole left by Google Reader. As Jake Levine, general manager for Digg, and Andrew McLaughlin, CEO of Digg, explains to GigaOm, there's still a place for RSS on the web, and it's with Digg.

"What we're working on in the Digg reader, and what we think is now the integral part of a good reader, is speedy management," McLaughlin said. "We're trying to make it very easy to sort and just distill all of your items, or any feed down to the most popular items or the most popular in your social circles."

The plan, GigaOm reports, is to have two sections for Digg users: a social and a personal. These sections will be flexible enough to be used by both causal news browsers and RSS power users. By marrying social and editorial news choices with RSS feeds with a common design, Digg could tap into a dedicated user base.

Digg's plan, of course, could fail, but that doesn't mean RSS and mobile news can't get along.

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