Is RSS Feed Synching a New Need?

Google Reader will die on July 1

Humans are lazy. It’s not their fault, but the default action for any situation seems, for most people, to wait and see. It can be something as trivial as what to have for dinner (“Oh, we’ll decide when that time rolls around.”) or as enormous and threatening as Climate Change (“Let’s do more research to see if it really, really, really is the result of human activity and is something that might be dangerous…”) the standard plan for most of us is to wait until we have to do something. It looks like, for an issue somewhere in between dinner and the fate of the planet, is requiring some action on our part, and soon.

Up to now, some of us had gotten used to relying on that huge, ‘non-evil’ corporation, Google, to act as caretaker of our choices for news feeds (as well as a bunch of other pieces of info, but today I’m talking about the news stuff). Because we wanted to keep all of the ways that we consume those news feeds in different places on different devices or software packages in synch, we relied on Google to be the keeper of our choices. In addition to offering a pretty good online feed reader, Google also (and less obviously) gave us a canonical place to save all of our feeds, how they were organized, and even which articles we had already read out of each RSS feed (so as not to reread the same articles again when we switched devices/locations/software).

Google has announced that as of July 1, they’ll be killing Google Reader, the aforementioned web-based reader and keeper of our RSS feed list. That not only means that the web-access to online RSS feeds is going away, but the infrastructure that a lot of other feed readers (since they figured that everyone had a Google Reader account) was something important to support, since it provided a way to quickly synch all of those preferences (what feeds you subscribe to, what feeds have read items, etc.) Google Reader’s feed collection became, partly by default, the single place where you could count on to make sure that all of your readers (and some of them actually depended on Google Reader being their to hold those Feed preferences, ‘in the cloud’ as it were) could be set up the same way. Yes, you can export your feeds as a collection of them (called an OPML file – so nerdy it doesn’t even have a clever acronym), but that’s pain and doesn’t help reconcile 2 of those files, should you add or delete feeds in 2 different contexts. I suppose someone will come up with a method of putting your OPML/reader settings in dropbox, and then the program can use it there to show your feeds, but that already feels like a hack.

So, it looks as if Feedly is going to probably be one of my main ways to read CSS feeds, along with the more standard Reeder on iOS and Mac OS X. I also use Netvibes to read news, along with my mail, calendar, stocks and and a few other odds and ends. It’s a bit cluttered, but a fine start page/dashboard for most of the time.

Still, I like the idea of a service that keeps all of those other readers in synch. Might there be one waiting in the wings, the way iCloud is supposed to keep my calendar, contacts and mail in synch? There has been some noise about a project called ‘Normandy’ that Feedly is working on – mostly that it is a clone of the Google Reader API (but it will never have the horsepower that Google had, especially if you ever wanted to search millions or trillions of feeds in order to find something important). In some ways, my subscriptions are almost as important as my files and other information. I also expect that as computing power gets cheaper, the need to have cloud-based services to keep all of those computing points-of-contact working well together becomes more and more important, and makes the experience all the more powerful. No note-taking software on the iPhone or iPad can even approach the power of Evernote, because with that service, no matter where I take the note on my phone, when I get home it’s already on my computer. Conversely, before I leave to go somewhere, I enter all of the information I’m going to need into Evernote on the desktop, and then when I get there, access it on the phone. My feed choices should work the same way, whether I listen to them read to me in the car, see them flashed on the TV screen, or snuggle up with them on the sofa with my iPad.

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How do Korea and Japan Benefit from Broadband Price and Speed?

I noticed a fascinating couple of graphs in an article on the blog World Politics Review, Top 30 Countries for Broadband Internet Access. One of them showed Japan’s astounding average Internet speed: (note: because of difficulties at that site, they permanently lost that graphic. I recreated them, but the data has changed since then):

Broadband_Chart_2014

At the time I first checked (the old chart) Japan showed an impressive 15 megabits per second speed (I’m assuming this is for download as well as upload?) but Korea has now overtaken them at 25 megabits per second. I checked my broadband speed here in Canada via SpeedTest.net and my results are far better than that at the moment (about 52 megabits per second down, and 11.6 up).

Here’s another graph, from the Open Technology Institute regarding the Cost of Broadband worldwide. Here is the Average Speed of Plans Priced Between $35 and $50:

broadband cost
According to this, all that speed is incredibly cheap in Seoul, under a dollar per month per megabit in US Dollars, according to the article. Here in Vancouver, my Internet cost is coming in at about $78 for that 50 Megabits per second, so that works out to roughly $.64 (Canadian) per megabit, which would convert to almost exactly $.50 US per month per megabit. That’s better than the graph says (although it’s hard to tell, I’d read it at closer to $5 per month).

To make it a little clearly (maybe), here’s the chart for the Average Speed of Plans Priced over $50:

broadband plans over 50 per month

Now Tokyo clearly comes in with the biggest bang for buck, with spectacularly fast speeds (if you are willing to pay for them). I wonder if there are any Seoul plans over $50, or with the speed they get under that charge if nobody bothers.

Although I’ve been making some comparisons here, I’m wondering how life would change for me if Internet was about what it is now, but was 5 times faster, but I’m also wondering if this high level of service at relatively low cost would cause a flurry of Internet activity and development in Korea and Japan.

So, what’s it like? How has cheap, fast Broadband Internet made things different, and do you think it will change things in the coming decade? My friends in Korea Japan, your input here is welcome!