Fretful newshounds and anxious bloggers can stop sitting shiva. Digg, or rather Betaworks’ reboot of old Digg, wants to resurrect yet another ailing online mainstay. On its blog this afternoon, the startup announced it would be building a reader to replace the “much-loved, if under-appreciated” Google Reader.
In the post, Andrew McLaughlin, the former vice president of Tumblr who joined Betaworks as an entrepreneur-in-residence last summer, said Reader’s “early social features were forward-thinking and hugely useful.” However, as with the revamped Digg, the new iteration won’t look exactly like its predecessor:
“We hope to identify and rebuild the best of Google Reader’s features (including its API), but also advance them to fit the Internet of 2013, where networks and communities like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Hacker News offer powerful but often overwhelming signals as to what’s interesting. Don’t get us wrong: we don’t expect this to be a trivial undertaking. But we’re confident we can cook up a worthy successor.”
He also assured fans of the revamped Digg–and the traffic it brings!–that this won’t impinge on their aggregator, implying it will function separately.
Betaworks already has some skin in the reader game. It owns a piece of the real-time tech company Superfeeder, which fetches and parses RSS or Atom feeds, as well as Bloglovin’, a service that lets you know when the blogs you want to follow are updated. Both startups made a plea to bereft Google Reader acolytes today. It’s also worth noting that Betaworks companies do tend to collaborate–like Bitly and Chartbeat.
In cased you missed all the service journalism, there are already a myriad of alternatives–although it’s hard not to watch them fall short when compared to the “800-pound gorilla in the RSS space.” As a positive sign for Digg’s own attempt at a better reader, the company is welcoming input from the yearning masses, struggling to blog free. Says Mr. McLaughlin:
In order to pull this off in such a small window, we’re going to need your help. We need your input on what you want to see in a reader. What problems should it solve for you? What’s useful? What isn’t? What do you wish it could do that it can’t today?
Fair warning to Digg, you’re soliciting input from a pretty vociferous bunch, who could give a shit whether their problems are universal concerns.
Bloggers who have spent years painstakingly curating feeds, lovingly organizing them into folders based on urgency and topic, may have even come to think of their top-secret feed resources as the modern day counterpart to the source rolodex. Asking to see a fellow blogger’s Google Reader is basically like asking them to share their sources–something that many would feel territorial about.
Though many may decry the downfall of RSS, for those who spend time sorting through large swaths of information and consuming as many news items as possible, Reader was a simplified way to sort through the noise (though that 1,000+ number was always pretty overwhelming).
The Betaworks team seems well-suited to revive RSS. In fact, they might want to make Lazarusing web 1.0 a full-time thing. Guess that would make them Internet Jesus?