I just tried out “Google Reader”:http://www.google.com/reader (Google’s RSS Aggregator) for the first time. It sucks. Sure, it’s got lots of slick AJAXY UI wizzardry, but it isn’t very efficient. You get a list of the titles of all the items in your feeds and then have to select each one to actually see the content. Even with the keyboard shortcuts and whatnot, you can only view one item at a time.
I don’t know that I’m totally sold on the whole “River of News”:http://www.reallysimplesyndication.com/riverOfNews concept, where all the items for all your feeds are shown on one page in reverse chronological order. But I do like seeing all the entries for a given feed, or group of feeds, displayed that way so I can quickly whip through them with the scrollbar, stopping on the items that catch my eye.
It feels like it takes me about the same amount of time and effort to eyeball an entire blog entry and decide if I want to read it in depth as it does to make the decision based on reading a headline. More importantly, my error rate is lower from eyeballing the whole story, because I base my decision on more information (and blog entry titles often suck) and I don’t have to do anything more to read the entry, because it’s right there in front of me. When forced to go by the title, I have to select the title and wait for the rest of the item to load (thankfully this happens quite quickly with Google Reader), and then I often decide to pass on the item after all because the full-text shows me that the entry wasn’t very interesting (for example, a recap of a news story I read somewhere else already).