A few days before Christmas, LinkedIn decided to “retire” the Network RSS Feed. I wrote about how important this feature was for networking here almost 5 years ago. Simply put, you could have all of that activity (people connecting with certain people, people changing jobs, status updates, etc) go to your favorite RSS reader. So if you have nearly 2,000 connections on LinkedIn it’s very hard to keep up, so it’s handy if you can go to your reader and look at the activity from the past day, week or month.
That is now over. If you want to stay up to date with the activity, you must keep LinkedIn open on your browser and check back every few minutes or at end of each day to get that info. Not impossible, but definitely not as easy as having your RSS reader spit it back to you at your convenience.
I understand why LinkedIn would want RSS out of the way. They know if you value knowing what your contacts are doing you will stay on the site. But I always hoped that LinkedIn would be different – forget about competing with the Social Network – make your service an indispensable tool for the entrepreneur. Give us something that helps us with our daily tasks and eases our workload. Instead, they just added to it.
If you have been following me since 2008, then you know how important Google Reader is to me. Not only do I use it to follow my favorite sites, topics, and influencers, I also use it to keep up with LinkedIn activity.
Last week Google announced that it will shut down Google Reader on July 1. I know that people have been declaring RSS dead for years, but most sites still have that orange square button in the corner, so that statement never made sense. I know that Twitter, Facebook newsfeed, and Google+ are delivering news in a very social way that has appealed to far more people than those who use Google Reader…but there is still a decent sized population that cannot live without Google Reader.
I will try not to be over-dramatic here; the world has not ended. But Google Reader was the best tool for a networker and media strategist such as myself in this age of constant online enhancements.
I will find a replacement that will have some of the features that GReader provided, but why do I have to, is the question. Why did it come down to this? Lots of good discussion about this on Quora.
I’m encouraged by what Feedly has done for the last few years and I’m excited to see what Digg will do. And one retweet about Google Reader shutting down, brought Prismatic to my attention. I will give them a spin just for being attentive.
And I would probably be willing to pay for it (maybe Google should have asked for dough), though the jury is still out on Newsblur.
If you have found the best alternative for Google Reader, please let me know.
In a nutshell, Hearst’s LMK (short for “Let Me Know”) app allows consumers to build their own iPhone/iPod Touch news app around personal passions. The list of over 2,000 topics is growing every day—and includes everything from college and professional sports teams and athletes (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, boxing, golf, tennis) to rock stars, movie stars, top companies, breaking news topics, politicians and more.
With the LMK super app, users download the free app and choose from thousands of free topics to customize the app based on the things they are passionate about.
Rather than visiting a litany of websites and unedited RSS feeds, the LMK app allows consumers to track only the subjects, people, places and things they care about, making the information, photos and stats available all in one place, accessible with the tap of a finger. LMK editors curate only the most reliable sources, including professional news sources and the most influential blogs, so consumers can use the LMK app as a gateway to the best content, while saving time.
I signed up for something called Gist months ago. You know how it is out here on these mean SM streets: crazy apps in beta and all of these invites coming your way. We all sign up and forget about these things. Then Gist hits us with the invites and codes and asks us to take some surveys. Folks on Twitter and FriendFeed got all crazed and asked, “What the hell is Gist and why are they bothering us with this stuff?” Some little person on my shoulder told me not to get outraged, even though I couldn’t remember what Gist was supposed to provide. I calmly went to the site and watched the video. “OK, that sounds like it could be something.” I logged in with my invite code and then proceeded to upload my Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn accounts to the Gist dashboard. Hrm?
Whenever I put someone’s name in the search, a page of info sprouts up. I see contact info, the last emails that were exchanged, latest tweets, web links that referenced said contact, pictures and even the attachments had it’s own section. There is a recent news section that pulls in rss feeds, tweets, bookmarking sites, blogs, and sites that reference or belong to each contact. That is one-stop shopping.
But this thing called Gist is all of the above and it’s free.
So now when I need to call someone, I pull up my Gist dashboard. If I have to refer to an email they sent, it’s there. If I need to look at a document they sent, it’s there. And I can be up to date on any news related to them and their company by looking at the news section. The latter is impressive, especially when you are talking to a prospect for the first time or to a colleague you haven’t spoken to in months. And remember, these lists you are uploading are not just your closest friends, we’re talking any and every .csv file, Outlook .pst, Salesforce database, and email batch you want to feed Gist.
Now be aware that you will be doing some manual updating. Gist could be better handling at data, especially when you give them the .csv files they request. But I do find myself adding phone numbers and additional email addresses that didn’t quite make the upload for some reason. There should also be more automatic updates for the dashboard, right now it’s once every 24 hours. Gist is still in beta, but it is already an incredible tool that keeps important info in one place.
Gist has a lot more features, so please check out the excellent video by the folks at The Social Networker as well as the one at the top of the post by @RobertatGist.
Earlier in the week, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb wrote this great post on searching and backing up your friends tweets in Google Reader (if there is a great trick that makes your job easier, Marshall will find it and explain it in laymen’s terms). Let’s face it, no matter how glued we are to Twitterstreams, we do miss some good tweets from time to time. I decided that I would do this Twitter backup.
Now, I’m a big Google Reader guy, but I didn’t like the way my Twitter stream took over my RSS reading. I like GReader too much to subject it to that much heavy lifting, so I went another route.
I first put that Twitter OPML in Netvibes. I think Netvibes is very useful, but for some reason, I only look at it once a month. Once you put your Twitter feeds in there, it is easy to edit and delete some Tweeps. It still moved kinda slow in Netvibes, so I decided to try out a new one. If your computer is fast and running at an optimal level, you may have more luck with Netvibes.
FeedDemon has been getting some buzz, so I applied the OPML there. It has some nice features. But there seems to be http errors that will prevent you from accessing certain Tweeps. Too bad, because it’s a good looking product.
I returned to Google. I set up the OPML in a secondary GReader account. That account will only deal with the Twitter database.
At the end of each day or every other day, I will spend some time checking out the tweets I missed. And not the same Tweeps everytime. I’m sure there were some gems that could improve my networking or increase my knowledge on certain subjects.
For me, I just didn’t like the way my GReader habits changed when I added the Twitter backups to my primary account. It made it more time consuming. I couldn’t just zip in and out. I only need to check these backups a few times a week, not every time I pop in to see my RSS feeds. Because I pop in quite a bit. Having it in a secondary GReader account seemed to be a great work-around.
Networking is a must for all entrepreneurs. If we don't get out there and shake hands, kiss babies, or join a group, it will be rough sailing. My goal is to inspire you to do as much schmoozing as you can. And there are some great new tools to help you do your job, do not be intimated by them. My stories and tips are simple...we all can and must do this.