Excuse the largely Travelfish.org-unrelated waffle.
The other day a high profile RSS reader launched to the iPhone. Flipboard. They’d already been available on iPad for some time and had received considerable critical acclaim, so when it launched for iPhone, I grabbed a copy.
First the good.
It’s a very clever, innovative approach and UI. Think flicking through one of those sprirally business card holder thingies. I actually read a 32-page Guardian story on it today and had no issues flicking from page to page (or board to board perhaps) — unlike online where even a page two for a story has me frothing at the mouth.
It’s also very easy to use and navigate. It really is a pleasure to use.
Then the not so good.
Flipboard comes with a bunch of pre-installed RSS feeds, broken into News, Business, Tech & Science, Video, Cool Curators, Photo & Design, Living, Entertainment, Sports, Local, Travel and finally, Style.
I zoomed straight to Travel to see who was in the wrap (not Travelfish, but we’re pretty small fry, so I’m not offended, really!) to see it was the regular suspects including LP, Frommers and National Geographic along with some North American travel sites I’m familiar with and finally some travel bloggers (all of whom (I think, apologies if I’m off here) are North American). Some raised a bit of an eyebrow, but it was overall a collection of the usual suspects.
Then I browsed over to news. Of thirty news sources, one, AlJazeera, was not a US or UK news outlet.
Isn’t this internet thang global?
Over in the “Local” section, subtitled “Regional media, city guides, local food” (code for “all the stuff we couldn’t stick elsewhere”) 23 of the 32 sources are US or UK based. There’s a couple of hat tips to Asia – Shanghaiist gets an honourable mention at least, but there’s no Asian or Australian newspapers, Paris covers Europe, and, well Africa, just don’t go there, all the news out of there is bad anyway.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m the least sport-inclined Australian on the face of the planet, which makes this app perfect for me. Zero cricket, rugby (either code) or badminton, but it is quite handy for baseball (for him) and yoga (for her).
I realise it must be difficult to boil down a gazillion news sources to something even remotely global in coverage, but Flipboard hasn’t even tried. It was suggested by tech journalist Jon Russell that “they have always claimed to be a US product” but nowhere on the app description page does it say something along the lines of “This app comes preinstalled with a selection of primarily US and UK media“.
To my mind it is an opportunity missed to perhaps expose Flipboard users to alternative news sources — I’m not talking about the People’s Front of Judea (or the Judean People’s Front) newsletter, but be they news sources like The Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post or the Times of India, or a plethora of international travel bloggers who have interesting stuff to say, or, hell yeah, even a cricket mag!
If you’re going to preload RSS feeds and call it “News from the World” then it’s not a bad idea to make it “News from the World.
Until then, I’ll stick to Reeder which comes pre-loaded with nothing except an interface that just does what it says on the can.