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09 28 2007

Rett Martin
1:21
I use bloglines to track my blogs. Before bloglines I used to always visit the individual sites and in doing that you take in the blog’s brand or identity, however when you read stuff through bloglines, you lose that and everything becomes bloglines-branded

1:22
I think this has an effect on the content for me I often get confused half way through an article as to who’s blog I’m reading, because I don’t have those visual cues.

1:23
but I think there is an interesting discussion about the impact of rss-readers on the consumption of content

Kyle Meyer
1:23
writing style is really the only way for that identity to show through otherwise you’re lost… bloglines might have well as written the post

Rett Martin
1:24
yeah exactly…and for me I have certain assumptions about blog authors, and the content changes if I think it’s coming from the wrong one

1:25
like I trust something more if it’s from kottke.org, or there’s a few blogs I read where I sort of think the author is a know-it-all prick, so if I think I’m reading one of their posts I might be a bit more skeptical/cynical

1:27
oh and one more follow-up point…if you have only ever consumed content from a blog through bloglines or some third party site, you’re never really experiencing it in the context it was meant to be in the brand

I think the last bit there is the most interesting, and I also believe there is a swath of discussion to be had over the topic. Personally, I’ve avoided anything beyond an incoming feed of links to articles that others have published, but have purposefully avoided reading entire posts without reading them on their native site; it just doesn’t do justice to the content or the author when their words are removed from what is figuratively their digital persona in the light of their site. So what do you think?

Thirteen

Responses

  1. An intro teaser to the article, for the user to click-out to the site for the whole article is always best. Some of the sites that have entire articles syndicated in the feed, go unnoticed in my daily use. I don’t feel like scrolling these huge articles on bloglines.
    All I really want to see is the title and a quick blurb description.
    Forcing advertising into the feed can be annoying too.

    I’m not sure anyone really confuses say “Bloglines” as the author of the content, maybe lesser technically savvy peeps.

  2. ty: It’s not the perception that bloglines writes the content, but the fact that the identity of the author is lost completely, if you don’t take the time to note the specific author (which, honestly, most people don’t), you’re not sure who is responsible for the content you’re reading.

    I agree that the best way to feed content is simple headlines and excerpts, but there are plenty of people who just read their daily blogs through feeders. :)

  3. Depending on how many feeds you’re subscribed to (I’m not subscribed to all that many), then you can get used to the writing style, use of images and feed footers. It’s not as nice as the actual site’s design, but it’s still enough for me to identify who owns which posts.

  4. Random thought, but what about the ad revenue that the feed reader site receives for the impression/click, rather than the blog owner (if they have advertisements)?

  5. I was hesitant to switch to feed readers for that same reason .. I’m an amateur web designer and I always appreciate good design in my favorite blogs.

    At the and the growing list of blogs I followed pushed me into using google reader (now with 45 subscriptions). But the way I read my feeds is by quickly browsing through the headlines, and if something catches my interest, I open it in a new tab and save it for a few minutes later. when I am done browsing through some subscriptions I switch to the websites and read the articles that I had put aside.

    On the idea of losing track of the author, I tend to not view all items at once, but to generally scroll through the subscriptions which do have new items. I also save my favorite type of blogs for last.

    As someone that hopes to be a serious web-designer someday, I always worry about the fact that precious time and effort will go into a design and into the presentation of content that will most likely be lost on most readers.

    Thanks for bringing this up, I’ve always wanted to discuss this point with someone who felt the same way when I was still stuck on visiting my sites every hour to check for updates

  6. PS forgive my bad grammar, I spent a fair bit of time collecting my thoughts and didn’t take note of what I had just written …

    …. ever considered an edit comment option ?

  7. Brand isn’t a logo or a look - it’s a total package that includes the message, positioning and tone of the writing. As I understand it, “brand” is communication that happens to have a visual element. Ideally, consumers reading RSS feeds should never lose the brand because the writing should convey the experience and personality of the organization - whether or not you ever see the logo.

    ‘Course, that takes a lot of concentration and commitment. You have to staff a writer, or writers, who know the brand philosophy and can execute it well in the RSS medium - not something organizations pay a lot of attention to.

  8. Yazan: I may look into an edit option. :)

    Paul: While I agree with you that a brand can be pushed through the writing style, but it’s still not the whole brand. And you’re spot on that such writing styles are most often found in people who write for a living, and while a company may be able to hire a dedicated writer, most blogs are a singular entity typing their own thoughts and remarks into the back of a blogging engine to share.

    I think there are times where it is easy to convey a style. When writing a perspective or opinion piece, it tends to be relatively easy to push a personal vibe into the flow of your writing, but something information tends to be devoid of such elements in most cases.

  9. I do not use RSS, I have tried and it just bothers me more than helps. I just pop onto my favorite sites in the AM and then again throughout the day. That being said, I agree with Kyle in that the whole package is lost in the feeder. I liken it to reading the lyrics of a song and hearing the actual song. You get the whole package when you listen to the song, as the artist intended. Much like a blogger who has designed his site to his style. You get the complete package when viewing the information where it was intended to be viewed.

  10. I have about 100 feeds in vienna. and when reading news feeds or ugly blogs i will just read them straight in vienna (if i can), however for designer blogs I open in a tab and read them there. Especially ‘a brief message’. just to see what the design is this time. Thats possibly the most beautiful site on the internet.

  11. For 99% of the time the visual appearance contributes nothing to the “brand” of the blog. Consider the scores of default Blogger/Wordpress -templates, for example. It’s mostly just noise.

    Also, it is not very difficult to recognize blogs by their writing style. I have roughly a 100 blogs in my reader, Really Important messages are rare. If a post is significant in some way, it isn’t impossible to read the name of the blog and the writer to the get the feel of the reliability of the message.

    In my view the best solution is to always publish full-length posts. Shorter teasers work too, but most of the time they just annoy me.

  12. With netvibes, I am able to see RSS feed titles and then bring up the actual website in a window. I think the way around this is not to publish your entire posts via RSS. If you only post an excerpt, or the title, you’re more likely to have people visit your blog.

    As for brand recognition, I feel a little overwhelmed with brands. I never understood it, but I’m more likely to buy something I need because it works for me, than buy something that has consistently barraged me with their brand. In fact, I think I’d avoid that brand more than not.

    Meanwhile, my step-daughter sings along with commercials. She’s 12….another generational gap, I guess.

  13. I am using Google Reader and I always scan through titles while opening articles I want to read on new tabs. I waste less time and read article on its’ blogs. Double win imo.