Feedly for iPhone – It's Here, It's Finally Here!!!

Content manipulators rejoice! Your favorite web extension for Google Reader, Feedly, has finally made its long-awaited debut on the iPhone (link here)! And, in a word, it ROCKS!

I have covered Feedly and the promised iPhone version many times here in the Studio. Apps come and go, but Feedly has been a constant companion ever since I started reading RSS and blogging and I couldn’t live without it. Feedly is a browser extension that works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari (I have it in all three browsers) that syncs with your Google Reader account – your GReader stories are pulled by Feedly and actions taken in either GReader or Feedly are reflected in the other service. Feedly wins with an outstanding magazine-style layout, relevance weighting of news articles based on your reading and sharing habits and very simple to use tools for saving, sharing, commenting, and otherwise playing with the great stories found among Feedly’s greatest hits.  You can display the latest updates from feeds, blogs, and sites like Facebook and Twitter – pretty much anything with an RSS feed you can subscribe to in Reader. Feedly integrates with Delicious, Amazon.com, YouTube, and other sites as well, showing that content alongside the news stories. It offers numerous ways to add, filter, display, mark, and share content. Ultimately, Feedly delivers your own personal magazine digest of everything you’re interested in, or might be interested in, since Feedly also does a good job of suggesting content.

I have longed for the iPhone version for quite some time and, following a tip on the Feedly blog, I was able to secure an advance copy of the iPhone app last fall.  I have been playing with it ever since.

Up front, Feedly for iPhone is not the full-function Feedly web, nor should it be. The mobile app gets to the very heart of what I use Feedly for – blowing through the top content in my Google Reader folders, save what I want, share what I want and mark the content read. Feedly for iPhone also takes full advantage of the iPhone’s tactile interface, with swiping right or left to access the story headlines, swiping up or down to mark read or unread.

The app shows the digest of all articles, most recent articles, featured sources (what Feedly thinks you should read), the most popular items from the Feedly community and saved items.  The deeper you delve into one of your Feedly categories, the less recent the story. You can like items with the thumbs up and mark the entire feed read by clicking the check mark at the bottom.

There is no faster way for me to wade through my Google Reader streams than Feedly and I find it even faster on the iPhone. Plus, there is the “here and now” factor of having the app on the phone so that I can read and share a little when I am between events or meetings on the go.

Developer and founder Ed Khodabakchian has been very accessible and responsive to comments and suggestions on the interface. They really seem dedicated to providing the best possible experience with this app and it shows.

If you use Google Reader, then you owe it to yourself to try Feedly. If you are an iPhone user (or iPad user  – it works on that too with the 2x zoom), you can get a very full Feedly experience in the mobile domain. And, if you are an Android user, don’t despair – the Android client is coming soon to a mobile phone near you!

New! feedly Mini Toolbar Improves feedly Experience

Do you love feedly as much as I love feedly? If you have no idea what I am talking about, feedly (link here) is a browser extension that works with your Google Reader RSS subscriptions to filter and promote the material you are most interested in, all in a gorgeous magazine layout. I have come to rely heavily on feedly when I don’t have enough time to examine my entire formidable subscription list. I am regularly impressed with how feedly seems to promote the best information in my feeds and how easy it is to sail through my subscriptions.

I noticed a little text at the top of my feedly window today telling me about the new Feedly Mini. I followed the link (here) and learned that the mini toolbar has been updated and is available on Firefox and Chrome browsers. Of course I reinstalled my Chrome extension.

The mini bar does two things as you surf the Web (away from the feedly home page): makes sharing easy and it offers suggestions for similar pages so that you can subscribe to new sources with a single click. Access the popup box by clicking the grey feedly logo on the bottom right of your screen. Both the button and the pop up box are unobtrusive:

Take feedly with you wherever your web surfing takes you!

Tech Addiction & Information Overload

I was compelled to open and read an article in my Google Reader from Lifehacker’s Adam Dachis entitled Why Technology is So Addictive and How You Can Avoid It (link here). I know, I know. To the casual observer, I probably fall squarely within the dopamine-addled masses who reach for their smartphone or iPad whenever there is a break in the level of external, non-tech stimulation. But I have grappled with this concept over the past several months. Not so much because I fear addiction, but more because I really don’t want to spend any more time on technology than I really must to reach the end I want to achieve.

O.k., English please. What I am saying is that technology, like your average hammer or pencil, is simply a tool. A means to an end. That end differs for different users (and I really don’t mean users in the druggie sense). Technology affords a compelling precision implement, a surgical scalpel, that can lessen the weight of otherwise heavy tasks. Such as staying on top of your area of expertise. Or staying in meaningful contact with people who are important to you, whether for business or personal reasons, and sharing relevant information.

Because of technology, we can now send greater quantity of higher quality communications and information to a larger audience. In turn, we (arguably) can absorb a greater quantity of higher quality and more timely information that might help us make important decisions across the spectrum of our needs. That is why the tech explosion of late has pulled along so many mainstream users – look, Auntie M, I can now get my daily updates on Cousin Lulu without having to pick up a phone, or even write an email.

I am not going to touch Mr. Dachis’ points on tech-etiquette here. I would like to assume that Studio Readers already know how to prioritize human interaction and tech interaction. But I do wish to point out Mr. Dachis’ cause for such addiction and overload issues and suggested remedy.:

One effective way of dealing with information overload is actually organizing information. This may be an obvious one, but most of us think more about organization than actually doing it. You’re going to get organized at some point, so you might as well start now (if you haven’t, that is). Email is one of the toughest things to get under control and there are more solutions out there than you could ever really try. Google’s new Priority Inbox is a great new way to focus on the important messages in your inbox. A Chrome and Firefox extension called Boomerang lets you schedule when you send and receive emails. Communicating through speed appropriate channels rather than funneling everything through email can help, too. You can even offload distractions to an iPad, or another device you have, so you can focus on specific things on specific devices. However you organize your information, just be sure to evolve your system to fit changes in the way your information flows.

Really, so much of the handling of our technology depends on implementing efficiencies so that the tech is a helpful passenger rather than the driver of the vehicle. For example, just last night, I spent about a half hour reorganizing my iPad feed readers. I have determined from the past few months that I can cut through my feeds faster if I can read them in an uncluttered, visual format on the iPad. So, I now have two text-based and two magazine-layout-based readers on my iPad, with different feeds in each app. Why? Because I can blow right through the most important feeds on the visual readers in record time. If I have additional time, I can always go to the text-based readers to hit more detail.

The future of the web is relevancy. To me, it is far more important to be relevant than it is to be fast. Along with my post this morning about Google’s new Priority Inbox that will automatically sort your email for you, the list of applications that cater to relevancy while improving delivery speed are growing. Filters like Google Reader’s “magic” setting and apps like Feedly, my6sense, Zite and Lazyfeed are making it easer to spend less time researching and more time creating. My admonition to lawyers, professionals or, really, anyone on the Web is to get to know these filtering systems and use them to avoid overload and the addiction necessary to stay on top of the overload. At first it will require spending more time getting up to speed and implementing your chosen method. But ultimately, you might even end up with enough time to start a new hobby. Like stamp collecting. Or gardening.

So Excited, Just Can't Hide It: Feedly for iPhone!

I can’t begin to count the number of times I have attempted to “read” my feeds on the iPhone and longed for the desktop Feedly interface. I wondered if and when one would show up, figuring those big brains would come up with something REALLY cool.

What’s Feedly, you ask? It is an application add-on to Firefox and Chrome (developers version) that works with Google Reader, providing a slick, magazine-like overlay of your feeds. There are granular controls for telling Feedly what you want to see and how you want to see it. And, as you use Feedly over time, it learns what you like best and pushes those stories to the top. Posts include buttons for recommending, sharing and starring. There are filters that alter your view and tabs for viewing posts within feed categories that you set.

I have raved about Feedly here in the Studio before. But I couldn’t recommend it as a mobile application. But I will be able to soon.  Here is Feedly iPhone Prototype 7:

Check out their blog post introducing mobile Feedly (link here). The developers indicate that simplicity and performance were their goals. I think they got it. Using a swiping gesture, you can:

  • swipe through the feedly digest
  • drill down into a specific article
  • recommend/share an article
  • tweet an article
  • mark an article as read and hide it (swiping the card to the top)
  • use the home option to select a specific category and feed

The developers are looking down the road to Feedly on Android and Palm Pre. Head over to the blog, give them some feedback on the video and they may actually incorporate your suggestions. And get ready for the live beta, coming March 15!

I’m going to hold my breath until then. Wish me luck.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Digital Curation Or Horder Syndrome?

The news du jour is all about curation. Digital curation, that is. I have noted a higher than average concentration of writing on this topic over the past few days. Clearly, people are interested in it. And that makes good sense to me.

What is digital curation? In its broadest sense, curation is the act of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts. Libraries and museums are excellent real world examples of curation. Digital curation refers more narrowly to the process of establshing and developing long-term repositories of digital assets, per Wikipedia’s entry on the topic. Good luck finding a more concrete explanation than that.

I will try to provide one. For me, digital curation is the gentle swirling of the prospectors’ pan while looking for lumps of gold among the gravel. Through this blog, Reader shares and various social media posts, I attempt to act as a digital curator – I spend my on-line time scanning readers, blogs, tweets, and other content for interesting information that may be useful to me and to people who subscribe to my content. I am a human curator and, hopefully, I provide a shortcut to better information through my blog posts and other social networking channels.

There are other ways to secure curated content. You can employ web tools that automate the process of material selection. The best of these automated offerings will attempt to “read” your interests and respond accordingly.  Google Reader has recently incorporated a setting called “magic” that purports to sort the mountains of content and push the news most likely to be of interest to you to the top of the pile. Feedly, the fantastic add-on for Firefox and now Chrome, does the same and takes it a step further by presenting the content in an easy-read format with precise controls over preferred sources. Lazyfeed, another Web tool, reads your tags and content from various media channels and funnels back to you the most relevant blog entries from across the ‘net. my6sense,an iPhone application, utilizes an algorithm called “digital intuition” to interpret your reading and sharing habits and feed back the content you are most likely to find compelling.

Other services, like MeeHive, Regator and Collected, organize and present the information in logical streams so that you can “cut right to the chase” of the particular news topics you are interested in.

For me, services such as these are a necessary antidote to the out-of-control flood of barely curated content flowing through Twitter and other social media sites. Apart from my few trusted resources, I find it difficult to use Twitter as a news source, particularly since I have no control over the arbitrary content choices  within the stream. The search function helps, but does not assure me that the “curator” is up to my standards. Time spent clicking on links and verifying the validity of the sources is better spent diving right into trustworthy content. As more and more content is generated, all of us are going to need proper curation to save us from web horders.

The list of helpful tools cited above is not exhaustive. It does offer a starting point for anyone interested in separating the wheat from the chaff. Rest assured the number of digital curation tools will be expanding – web experts such as Steve Rubel have taken the position that the future of the Web is digital curation and services that direct the flow of relevant information that is absorbed quickly, easily and smoothly. Rubel’s reasoning is that web denizens are “attention strapped.” I would describe it more as overstimulated. Effective digital curation is the cure for the overwhelm.

Do you have tips, tricks or tools to help you sift through to the diamonds? Please share with the class in the comments!

 

Feeding Your Quest for Shared Knowledge with Feedly

Image representing feedly as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Part two of an impromptu two-part series on my latest content browsing and sharing tools focuses on Feedly. Feedly is a Firefox add-on developed in 2008 and seemingly in a constant state of growth and innovation. Feedly aggregates your RSS and shared content and follows you around the web so that you can easily gauge the discussion from pretty much anywhere you go. Describing itself: “Feedly is a Firefox extension which weaves twitter and Google Reader into a magazine like experience.” The “win” part for content gathering is that Feedly will “read” your interests and attempt to float the cream to the top of the list for you.

Up front is a slick magazine-like interface that is easy to navigate, expand, share from and comment upon with real-time aspects. Feedly highlights material deemed most relevant based on your interests, reading patterns and recommendations from friends. It pulls articles from Google Reader, with the ability to add feeds directly into your Feedly. It pulls your friends and other information from other social sites, such as Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail and Friendfeed.

Feedly attempts to suggest and refine your information based on the data it can pull and the preferences you can enter. Along the left side of the home page are buttons to change the view – cover, digest and latest. Each show similar information in different aspects and focus. Cover offers the greatest breadth, with the top few stories from your various feed categories in a series of columns at the top, the number of new articles from your featured sources list, a video gallery based on your interests, your Twitter stream and mentions, your “karma” (more on that later), and a suggested Twitter search item. Flickr photos grace the bottom.

Digest offers a long list of articles with a blurb in a single column, with your featured sources and less Twitter information along the right side, as well as the video and Flickr gallery. Latest looks a whole lot like Google Reader showing the titles only of posts in reverse chronological order, but with a cleaner interface and pretty much nothing else.

Here is a screen shot showing the top portion of my Cover view:

feedly cover

Setting changes are made from your dashboard, via the access button at the top of the home page. Feedly strongly suggests grouping and organizing your feeds in categories to maximize the experience. Changes made in Feedly will be applied to Google Reader and vice versa. My Google Reader categories were sucked into Feedly automatically.

Use the “favorite” button – a star next to a feed title – to mark your best sources so that these items can be highlighted on your page. You can even assign views for each feed, depending on how you prefer to see the information from a particular source: titles only; title and summary; picture grid; video grid; and, entire content inlined. Much of the housekeeping in Feedly can be easily accomplished with drag-and-drop, so it is easy to set up and subsequently change your viewing experience, albeit a somewhat time-consuming process.

The articles are equipped with buttons to like and share. This adds value to your own experience by tailoring subsequent information coming to you and adds value to your social network by offering articles of interest to them. When you expand an article by clicking on its title, you will see more of the article, as well as buttons for keeping the article unread, highlighting semantic metadata, previewing and copying the link. The semantic metadata button will highlight semantic concepts in the article, providing background information in a pop-up on the concept and offer  a link out to more fully explore that particular concept in Feedly from your sources, news, Twitter + Friendfeed and across the web. You will also see how many recommendations the article has and a list of buttons to share on Twitter, Delicious, Friendfeed, Gmail, Facebook and in both Feedly and Google Reader with a note. At the bottom of the expanded article, you will see the how many times it was clicked on in the Tweet stream, Friendfeed conversations, and the likes and comments the article has garnered in Google Reader and Feedly.

You can keep track of what your friends are sharing and what they are saying about the articles you share in your Feedly. Karma is a section of the cover that shows you how people react to the material that you share. It shows what you have liked and shared. It also shows the number of clicks on the item and where else it has been shared.

You can find all of your shared and saved items easily from a button on the left of the main screen. You also can pull your recent history. All of these are great features to help you track where you have been and what you are doing and where you might like to return in the future.

Another VERY cool feature of Feedly is Ubiquity integration. I have written about Ubiquity on the Studio before, praising it for streamlining and integrating web services with quick keyboard clicks. Just install the latest version of Feedly and the latest version of Ubiquity to start using and generating your own commands. Feedly also integrates Google search, via a bar at the top of the your home screen.

Feedly can shadow your wanderings as well. As you work your way around the web, a little Feedly mini bar shows up at the bottom of the screen showing how many times the site has been shared on other sites, like Friendfeed and allowing you to share or save the article in Feedly or Google Reader, share on Twitter, email using Gmail and navigate to another article that Feedly will suggest based on your interests and prior likes and shares. Here is a great image diagramming the mini tool-bar from Sarah Perez’s article on the subject at ReadWriteWeb:

Feedly Mini (ReadWriteWeb)(edited)The Feedly mini toolbar knows if an article has been a popular subject on Friendfeed. If so, a pop-up will show up with a bit of the conversation, allowing you to jump over to the conversation on Friendfeed and join in. All of these features can be selected / deselected.

Your personalized Feedly can be accessed from multiple machines, provided they also are running Firefox.

Feedly is all about tailoring your news sources and making them easier to scan, read and share. To say it is an all-encompassing experience might be an understatement. I find that Feedly has completely supplanted my Google Reader-ing with its easier-to-review look and NASCAR pit crew-sized box of tools. And Feedly seems ravenous about evolving and becoming more, better, faster, stronger, able to leap tall buildings in single bounds, etc.  If you don’t have Feedly or Firefox, you definitely owe it to yourself to make the switch!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]