Using Twitter as a Feed Reader



Twitter is a great social tool – halfway between an Instant Messaging client and e-mail. You can leave messages for people publicly or privately, and you can even import RSS feeds into your own twitter stream. It has blog integration in that you can have your blog put every post you make into your Twitter stream (much like this one will be posted to my twitter stream).

At first I thought the goal was to get as many people to follow you as you can. Then I read this post from Scobleizer that basically says: it’s not who follows you but who you follow. After mulling over this I realized it does make sense… I realize I’m not going to be as popular as some of the heavyweights on Twitter, and that really shouldn’t be your goal. My personal goal on twitter is to be connected with others, see whats happening, and maybe make some friends along the way.

An initial admission is probably in order: I don’t use a feed reader to follow news. I find that it is simply too much information to follow and much of it is duplicated content. I have a handful of websites/blogs that I visit on a daily basis to get an overview of general news (I am a news junkie) and I enjoy the format of websites and the associated images that go along with a story.

Along those lines, I found myself following some pretty neat feeds – @Makeuseof, @BreakingNewsOn, @nprnewsblog and others, which are basically imports of RSS feeds from their particular blog. Some of these ‘blog Twitterers’ also inject personal commentary into their streams.

After adding @engadget to my stream this morning it hit me: I am using Twitter as a Feed Reader! For those selected blogs that import their feeds into a Twitter user, or even those twitter users that have a blog which is synced up to Twitter, I find it awesome to be able to see what is going on, without having to manage “feeds” – mark items as read, and maybe even get additional commentary on stories. No marking of read items, no ‘old unread’ information to deal with, just a constant stream of feeds sent live to my twitter stream.

If I see an article I’m interested in, I click through (via the handy tinyurl link) and read to my hearts desire. If it doesn’t interest me, I just ignore it. It turns Twitter into a social feed reader, where you can talk about stories to other twitter users.

So will Twitter take over for feed readers in general? I think for some hardcore people, a direct feed is the only thing that will work. But for more ‘casual’ feed readers, such as myself, I think using Twitter as a feed reader is a great idea. Let me know your thoughts/experiences with it!

[Updated 2009/5/6 – See archived comments for this post at Disqus, I’ve since moved comments back onto this site.]

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  • Hey Dave. Twitterfeed will never replace a mainstream RSS reader such as Google Reader but it does help bloggers like me and you “push” our content out to people. It’s so hard to get people to read blog content (due to information overload) and so Twitter provides a ready audience.

    I was just thinking today though that we have to be careful that we don’t inadvertently spam people with blog posts through Twitter. This led me to disable my Twitterfeed for a few hours but reading your post persuaded me to enable it again.

  • Nice post, my feed reading has declined as I started using twitter more. What I like about twitter is that not only can I get the news from blog feeds on twitter but I can have conversations with the people who wrote the blog.

    I’m @waynesutton on twitter and I use Twitter as a Feed Reader

  • What a coincidence – Eric Berlin is pondering the same question – http://onlinemediacultist.com/2008/04/09/is-twitter-the-new-rss-reader/

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