May 17, 2008

A Google Reader Shortcoming

Posted in Web tagged , , , , at 1:34 pm by Andrew McMillen

You click to subscribe to a site.

If Google Reader is selected as your RSS reader by default, as it is on my PC, you’ll encounter the screen where you can choose to add the feed to your iGoogle homepage, or to the Reader itself.

On that screen, there should be an opportunity for the user to rename the feed subscription. Instead, I have to click Manage Subscriptions within the left pane , scroll down to find the feed, and rename it manually.

I just subscribed to a site named Social Marketing Journal. It’s written by a guy named Nick Stamoulis. I found his site linked from a TechCrunch discussion about social network data portability, which morphed into a semantic argument between Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington that I soon lost interest in.

I don’t know Nick Stamoulis. I wasn’t aware that he existed until five minutes ago. But I’ve decided that his writing is worthy of my time and my subscription.

My subscriptions in Google Reader are named by blog author where possible, instead of blog title. It’s frustrating when I have to search within a site’s content to discover the author’s name. “This blog sits at the intersection of anthropology and economics” is a descriptive title, sure, but it’s long-winded and, to me, irrelevant. What’s relevant to me is the name of its author, Grant McCracken.

We live in an age where the production and dissemination of information is more decentralised than ever before. Knowledge distribution is no longer controlled from inside a walled garden, as it was when the words of newspaper journalists, authors and academics were singular voices of expertise. The walls have come down; the system has exploded. An individual has more information available at his fingertips than he could reasonably attempt to engage with in a lifetime, let alone analyse and interpret.

This is the reason why I value a blog author’s name more than their blog title. When you’re falling down a bottomless pit of knowledge, noise creeps. If the audience reading your message hesitates for even a moment, your voice is lost amid the din.

This is why Social Marketing Journal means less to me than Nick Stamoulis does. The medium is the message; without an author, a page has no content.

Names will outlast titles. Your name is your brand. You should wear it with pride.

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1 Comment

  1. Glenn said,

    Andrew, I was not initially sure where you were going with this post, but I understood by the end, and I like what you have to say.

    I’m not sure if you have ever seen Tiffany Monhollon’s PersonalPR, but it too focuses (like several other blogs) on how a name serves as a much more effective brand than any title or column header.

    No doubt, the blog market is becoming increasingly expansive, and thus proportionately competitive… when faced by stellar individuals (newcomers) capable of spreading their name and winning recognition, though, I do not foresee the Old Guard maintaining the influence they are currently enjoying.

    Best of luck in getting your brand out there.


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