Switching from RSS to Twitter

With the recent news that Google is shutting down Google Reader, I decided to give Twitter feeds a try as a replacement. It’s been a few days now and I wanted to outline a few of the pros and cons, just in case anyone is considering making the switch.

A little about my setup first: I chose to start a new Twitter account vs. using Twitter lists. Maybe it’s unnecessary complexity, but it seems pretty obvious that, like DMs, Twitter wishes Lists didn’t exist and would kill them if it could (and may still). I have a feeling they’re not apt to kill the ability to follow people anytime soon, so I opted for a second account. Using Lists would certainly make sharing easier (and Tweetbot has amazing Lists support), but I’m comfortable with the trade-off. Do whichever you like best! Anyway, here we go:

Pro: One less app

Oh man, this was an unintended consequence, but feels really, really good. Reeder is an amazing application, but getting to remove it from my Mac dock and iPhone homescreen gave me that one-less-thing feeling. I’m a pretty habitual organizer and consolidator, and know some people couldn’t care any less about that sort of thing. So yeah, your mileage may vary. I loved it.

Pro: Simplified and synced feed

Again, this is a usage-specific nicety. I tend to always just press the “Unread” tab in Reeder and just work my way through the full list chronologically. This means scrolling to the very bottom and working my way up (new stuff is at the top in Reeder). That way I get to see the news evolve over the day and not piece it together in reverse. The beautiful thing about using Twitter (and Tweetbot specifically) is that no matter where I open the feed (Mac, iPhone, iPad), I’m a) synced to the last place I was and b) everything new is upward. It’s been like magic and has made me mad at myself for resisting trying this in the past.

Pro: Sharing and starring are back!

I mean, it’s Twitter. So yeah. Sharing and favoriting are the name of the game.

Con: Not all the sites I followed on Reader have Twitter accounts

They are few, but they definitely existed. I decided to try life without them and haven’t missed them very much at all. Kind of a good forced pruning tool, but would have been nice to have it be 1-to-1. This also limits me in the future if a new web site or blog doesn’t have a Twitter feed that links to their articles. Which brings me to the other con:

Con: Not all blog Twitter feeds are actually article links

The example right off the top of my head is swissmiss. Her RSS feed is one-to-one with her blog content (of course), but her Twitter account, as far as I can tell, never links to her blog. It totally makes sense for that to be the case, but it just means I’m not receiving any ingress point to her content except to visit the web site directly (which, honestly, I’m probably not going to remember to do with any regularity).


Now that I’ve started using Twitter for feeds, I’m unlikely to ever go back. The ease of sharing, Favoriting, Retweeting, sending to Instapaper, etc. not only match, but at times surpass even Reeder in terms of ease and simplicity. One less app to deal with is a win, not to mention that the links are ordered exactly as I like them (and holy crap, Tweetbot iCloud sync. So good).

+1, wish I would have done this before.


Now read this

The Sliding Scale of Giving a Fuck

During my first big project at Etsy, completely overhauling our Item Reviews system, I was paired with Andrew Morrison, an incredibly talented engineer (and now a very good friend). Andy cared a lot about not just the code he wrote, but... Continue →