ReadTwit and GReader – two great tastes that taste great together

04-30 peanut butter cup by FrontStudio

A while back I found readtwit (can’t recall from who, but thanks!), a service that creates an RSS feed of all the links that are posted by people in your twitter follow feed, expanding each link into the page it was actually linking to.

Now if you are like me, and follow people in your field who are passionate about what they do and share a lot of what they do, what they learn and what they find in twitter, this is a godsend. What it results in looks a lot like the below screenshot once you subscribe to it in Google Reader (or really whatever RSS Reader you like, but I am going to focus on GReader for a reason):

Readtwit in GReader

Well, so what you say- sure you have the links from twitter in GReader, but all you’ve done is shifted reading environments. Aha, just so! But shifted into one that offers better affordances for this specific use of twitter (learning and collective intelligence through link sharing.)

First off, if this is the primary way in which you approach twitter (as a social network primarily for finding new resources, it allows you to pay attention to just that. I’d suggest that this would be to not benefit from the full interaction of twitter, but for some folks that’s just fine. Indeed, in conjunction with the new ‘Lists’ functionality in twitter, this becomes a powerful way for a newcomer to subscribe to a curated list of ‘experts’ and see what they are sharing with each other (it helps too that readtwit sorts out duplicates, again reducing the noise).

But say you like spending time in twitter. What benefit then? Well, one aspect of shifting these particular tweets into a reader is that you can consume then at your own pace, and not loose them as twitter flows endlessly by. At least that is what I first thought when I subscribed. But sure enough, just as tweets flow by too quickly to “keep up” with everything, shifting to GReader doesn’t help that much. Instead I just get a feed full of too many links to follow up on.

It wasn’t until during the midst of presentation to Alec Couros’ grad school class (Elluminate recording here) on “Mashing and Remixing Open Education” that I actually realized what the REAL benefit of subscribing to the readtwit feed in GReader was. It wasn’t so that I could follow each of the links in the feed – I still will click through in twitter when I see something that is interesting, and let it flow past when I’m not there. No, the REAL benefit is that the pages in this feed GET ADDED TO MY PERSONAL FEED-FOCUSED SEARCH ENGINE.


I’m not sure how many people actually realize that GReader allows you to search across all the feeds your subscribe to (or even a specific feed). Why is this important? Because – if it’s in my feed reader it has already reached a certain level of ‘trust’ as a source for me. I’m not saying I “believe” everything in my feed reader, but the vast majority come from people who are curating their own identities/output, whose context overlaps mine to some extent (otherwise I wouldn’t be subscribing to them). Being able to see who else in my network wrote or linked to something I find is of great use for me, increases my ability to assess information 10 fold.

Anyways, try it out for yourself. It doesn’t cost anything, the worse that happens is you have a GReader feed that fills up with unread items. The best that happens is that you added another source to your growing socially filter search engine. – SWL

6 thoughts on “ReadTwit and GReader – two great tastes that taste great together

  1. Alan Levine

    I know I heard about this from a tweet out of Chris Lott; I have it in my GReader, but have not quite as active in link harvesting.

    The other leap one can do with the links from GReader is then use its share functions to do things like send the link (and your comments) via email, or better, to tag the link in delicious (I used the Firefox delicious extension so you can boommark via contextual menu).

  2. Scott

    Definitely good ideas Alan, thanks!

    I hesitate to highlight any one feed reader, like GReader as this post does, because ultimately I think we want people to get into the flow and be free to chose the tools that work for them, not adopt MY particular workflow. But it’s hard not to highlight GReader – it has slowly matured to being an indispensable tool for me, and if only it would support authenticated feeds (COME ON GOOGLE!) it would be near perfect for how I work.

  3. Andrew

    Incredibly valuable piece. Thank you! A tool that grabs the links out of Twitter and eliminates repeats? Huge help.

  4. Chris Lott

    I made most of these same points to my students on Wed night about the value of ReadTwit… for me it’s a highly valuable resource but not one that– as Stephen Downes implies– replaces following people and reading the context.

    The real value is in the way ReadTwit feeds Twitter resources into a very strong mechanism with a history and easy sharing/noting/etc. I didn’t even THINK about the search in Google Reader, which is something I always forget about.

  5. Grant

    Thanks for this fantastic tip. I have been using Instapaper on iPhone Tweetie app for selective harvesting of links from Twitter but this bulk feed into GReader is just what I needed.

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