Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tech churn and the fall of the Feed Reader – a new meme tag

Today (ta-da) I’m inaugurating a new Blogger “label” (aka a tag) – tech churn.

I obviously have more to write on this topic, but I’m going to start with one example – the fall of the Feed Reader …

Alex Payne — Fever and the Future of Feed Readers

Time was, every self-respecting geek lived and died by his feed reader (or aggregator, if you prefer)…

… Today, at least in the web-tech echo chamber, feed reading is quickly falling out of fashion ...

I don’t just like Feed Readers, I love Feed Readers, esp Google Reader (web) and Byline (iPhone). Problem is, they really are dying. In my timeline feed readers went from new and useful to life support in about five years.

Today Feed Readers are being replaced by … by… uhhh … nothing. They haven’t been superseded, they’ve been lost in tech churn white water. The closest descendants might be Twitter clients and Facebook’s news page in that both enable subscription (though both unify subscription with publication, whereas in the Atom/RSS world those were decoupled).

Tech churn has a substantial productivity cost. I personally wasted a substantial amount of time, money, and good will trying to integrate feed reader technology into my corporate world. Just as we started to get to a positive return, the feed readers we relied on went away [1].

It’s not just Feed Readers. I think if you look for it, you’ll see many examples of tech churn. Old technologies are ailing, but new technologies are unready and/or short lived for a multitude of reasons (exhibit A). Often we adopt a substitute new technology that itself will have a limited lifespan.

I suspect tech churn is taking a real toll on our economic and personal productivity. It may even be a contributing factor to the crash cycles of the past decade. It’s not all bad though, if not for the turbulence of tech churn we might be moving even faster to the waterfall.

More examples coming soon …

[1] Outlook 2007 works with Active Directory authenticated feeds, but when I tested prior to SP2 it was flat out horrible. In any case we’re stuck on Office 2003 (money).

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