Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I have a love-hate relationship with feed readers

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Feed readers are great. I've said it over and over again. But I'm beginning to develop a love-hate relationship with feed readers.

Great for mobile users

As you know by now, in this new job I get to travel to customers all over to discuss the business value of social software and best practices for social software adoption. And since I live in Puerto Rico, my flights are usually long, especially now that American Airlines has eliminated the hub in SJU.

With so much travel, what's one to do? Well, sometimes I use that time to catch up with what TiVo has recorded for me using TiVo Butler on my Mac. Often, though, I launch my feed reader and start digesting what's going on in the blogs and forums that I'm interested in or anything else that has been tagged with the topics that I'm interested in: "enterprise2.0", "web2.0", "social-computing", etc. The content that I find there ? More often than not, it's great content! Content that I want to comment on and discussions that I want to contribute back and questions that I know I can answer.

The Love turns to Love-Hate

This is where I get stuck. I would love to reply to discussion threads, blog entries and other stuff offline! Right now, I have to resort to marking the interesting items as Unread and hope that I remember to come back to it. While some forum technologies (like the forums used in developerWorks) already allow for offline replies to threads, this is not mainstream.

I know that each day we are moving closer to a pervasive online world. American Airlines is already piloting a product for in-flight internet. Still, this is still years away. A decade maybe.

Pervasiveness drives adoption

Based on my experience, one of the key factors for social software adoption is the ability to use those tools from anywhere. Lotus Connections , for example, does a good job at that because it can be used from Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, BlackBerry, Portal, Notes, Sametime, Windows Explorer, etc. You can even take the social task management component (Activities) and use it completely offline! And, of course, (like with 99% of blog engines), I can compose blog entries while offline.

The capability to reply to content offline would be huge and would contribute to social software adoption. I hope all Enterprise 2.0 vendors make an effort to provide and/or augment this capability in their products soon!

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