Can LinkedIn Top the News Paper Pile?

16 Mar

I suppose that for most of us news no longer comes in paper form; however, I still envision my virtual news in a similar fashion to the rustled piles of papers that used to sit atop the breakfast table. On a lazy Sunday every item would be carefully read and discussed over breakfast but with hustle and bustle of the week invariably one paper always hit the top of the stack while the others were often left unread. The same is true with the way news is read online – only the most effective news source gets daily attention.

For the past few months my news viewing has been dominated by feedsquares, the pretty little UI that organizes google’s rss reader. I’ve enjoyed this because it allows me to select the news sources I enjoy and place all of them in a single spot. On those days that I have an extra few minutes and want to learn a little more about the goings on in the world today I also frequent twitter, paper.li and sometimes even good ol’ yahoo.

The prospect of LinkedIn introducing a news style article aggregate gave me an excited hope for a news venue that may be even more relevant than my current approach. The past week I’ve made a conscious effort to use both news aggregates equally in an effort for fair comparison.

I love the customization that LinkedIn Today offers, from the first get-go most of the content was already interesting to be because it was based on my profile and usage (I know privacy hounds dislike this but I personally love it), then I was able to add interests and customize further. The end result was an easy to read and highly relevant news page. In many ways this was a triumph over a rss reader because content was centered around industries rather than just sources. This resulted in considerably fewer articles to glance over in order to  find the ones that I really wanted to read.

If my only concern regarding news was business and industry on a global level then LinkedIn Today would definitely win. Unfortunately there is a big component currently missing from the news aggregate… the ability to add local content. As a small business owner I’m as concerned with my local news and politics as I am with global industry news. Global news may have implications on my big picture and strategies but local news is what matters most to my daily operations and the lives of those I serve. The other tiny downside to LinkedIn Today is the absence of browser extensions. Its not a deal breaker but it is a very helpful thing to have a toolbar shortcut or better yet a preview of news prior to searching for your bookmark or heaven forbid actually typing in an url.

All in all I think LinkedIn Today shows great promise at providing targeted and relevant news. Yes, there are some improvements that would be nice but as a first release they did a fine job. As for me, I’ll probably check in when I’m on LinkedIn for other purposes but I’ll give them a few more months and a couple of iterations before I make a switch from my current primary news aggregates.

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