News Aggregators and RSS, Google Alerts, Social Media

David Levin from isicad.ru commented on my post “Content in King“:

“I believe that even the best sources of info (incl. RSS) are not everyday of the same quality and interest… Therefore middle men are needed: very probably – not for you but seems definitely for millions of others.”

I believe news aggregators make life much easier for readers by showing them important news, press releases, articles, etc. and filtering out the rest. One of my favorites is the TenLinks daily newsletter. However, I believe that news aggregators try their best to do an impossible job – take care of the needs of every reader. The CAD industry is so large with so many disciplines and so much going on that I am pretty sure the job of news aggregators is getting increasingly difficult. Obviously, news aggregators end up showing news that matters to the majority of their target audience, but smaller news, which may be important to a few, has to be left out. This is perfectly understandable.

But the advent of things like RSS, Google Alerts and Social Media has changed things. For example, if I want to keep track of stuff related to a certain small but important (to me) company, they would need to do something really huge to figure on the news for the day. However, if I subscribe to their RSS feed or even follow one of their employees on Twitter or Facebook, I am in the know. Google Alerts takes it a step further. You can set up an “as-it-happens” alert for a specific keyword and can get notified of things happenning in places or companies that you never knew existed. Of course, the key here is to set up a right keyword. Something like “CAD” will only drive you nuts.

I liken news aggregators to large national new channels and things like RSS, Google Alerts and Social Media like Twitter and Facebook to local news channels. Here in India, local news channels have started giving larger national news channels a run for their money. Previously, the ads appearing on local channels were of local mom and pop shops. But now I see ads from larger companies showing up as well. That’s probably because the local channels are now showing national news in addition to local news, which I think is a pretty smart thing to do. National channels cannot afford to show local news, but local news channels can easily afford to know national news. Not surprisingly, I now find myself spending more time listening to my local news channel.

One way for news aggregators to solve this problem is to divide their content to suit different disciplines. CADWire.net does a pretty good job at separating news by industry. That way they can increase their depth and widen their reach. Of course, that involves a lot more work. Another way is by adding original content, which also involves some work. But I believe this is a sure shot way of retaining and even increasing readership. Even if a reader finds that a certain news aggregator is not serving his interests well, but if it serves some original content along with news, he will defintitely keep coming to him.

Like said before, there is too much information out there. But there are also smart ways of organizing and filtering it. And these ways are getting better and better every day. The internet has changed a lot of things permanently, and I believe we are just getting started.