Exploring new things
Flipboard I used for a bit when it first came out, and I liked it but preferred a more traditional text-based view of my RSS feeds that I could sort by subject. Flipboard is beautiful, and it works really well, I think, for following things like Twitter and Facebook, but it breaks down and was far less effective for things like Google Reader (which I still haven’t identified an alternative for, with Google’s announcement that it’s being unmercifully killed). So it was a fun social media browsing toy for awhile, but I never did much with it.
Springpad was introduced to me as an Evernote alternative, but it never stuck. I think part of it was that I just have too much information already in Evernote and there wasn’t a “holy crap I have to have that” feature in Springpad to get me to switch. The new version that launched today has some features I don’t recall from the first time I checked it out – mostly in the templates it offers for specific post types like checklists and contact management – so it might be worth revisiting this. I still think I’d be hard-pressed to switch away from Evernote though.
The updates to both Flipboard and Springpad today added the functionality to add
what both are calling “magazines” of (UPDATE: actually, only Flipboard is calling this a “magazine”; Springpad is calling them “Embeddable Notebooks.” Thanks to Springpad VP Brian Carr for pointing this out to me!) user-created content, but both approach the idea from different directions. As we search for ways to launch a digital version of our magazine that work with our office, any time a service like this mentions “magazine” my interest is immediately piqued. Ultimately, while the new functionality in both apps is significant, neither really match my definition of a magazine (although Springpad is closer than Flipboard).
Flipboard’s implementation essentially creates a completely custom RSS feed. I created a magazine called “College Hockey” where I dropped a couple of stories from College Hockey News, and I could easily add any other information off the web that I found and wanted to add. Flipboard users could find and subscribe to this magazine and then get anything I added to the feed pushed to their board. I could add self-generated content to Flipboard’s magazines by creating a blog post somewhere and then manually adding that page to the feed. There currently isn’t an automated way to have my magazine auto-detect new content and add it to the feed, though; every post must be added manually. For what basically amounts to a custom RSS feed, that’s somewhat of a drag. Flipboard’s implementation is, for all intents and purposes, its version of Storify – and Storify is already pretty good and has traction.
Springpad’s implementation is essentially a shared notebook on the service. Evernote’s had shared notebooks for awhile. Like Flipboard you can add pretty much any sort of content you wish to a notebook – sharing a link or whatever content you want to put in a Springpad note – and there are templates for adding specific content like movies, music, recipes, products, checklists, events, to-do lists, contacts, etc. So you can create content and bundle it up and share it as a “magazine,” but it seems like somewhat of an odd implementation as it forces you into one of two options for storage – either using the magazine to gather content that is stored in Springpad (which is a free service without a paid upgrade option like Evernote, meaning your content is at the mercy of the survival of the parent company) or linked from elsewhere online, making it the same implementation as Flipboard’s magazines.
As I said earlier, neither of these things really fits my idea of a “magazine,” although Springpad probably comes the closest.