Thoughts on Flipboard: Content vs Social

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by Kate on 5 August 2010

in From the Field,Technology

I’ve been using Flipboard for about two weeks now.  It’s all the buzz so I thought I’d put out a few of my thoughts on it so far.

Do I like it?  Sure, it’s pretty.  Do I LOVE it?  Nope.  Keep reading….

What’s Flipboard? According to them, It’s your personalized social reader.”  Wired describes it as “one of a growing category of iPad apps that build you a personal newspaper by grabbing content from your social networks. The difference with Flipboard is that it actually feels like picking up a magazine and flipping through it, but the super simple interface hides some powerful features.”

TWiT TV (Episode 258: It’s the New Sex Talk) had a discussion on the topic, much of it was on the legality of their content curating process - Aaron Strout and Jennifer Leggio also talked about this with Marshall Kirkpatrick on their Quick ‘n Dirty podcast (Episode 54: Robots Can be Your Friend) - it’s basically “mashup” style with how it brings you content.

So, if someone in your Twitter feed posts a link, you can view the actual link – graphics and all – in the App.

And what about the viewing? Beautiful. If you’re into aesthetically pleasing viewing, which is what the iPad is awesome at, you’ll love this.  It’s really (really!) slick.


I don’t want to get into the WAY Flipboard gets you content (really neat!) or the legal issues of it, or how it’ll effect the journalism industry (all interesting topics and great discussions of course).

One thing that came out of the TWiT TV conversation in quick passing really sums up what role I see Flipboard playing in my consumption.  I believe it was Cali who used the phrase “social viewing.”  This really hit home for me, and I couldn’t agree with her more on this.  I might only refine it to say “social content consumption.”

Because, here’s the thing.  Flipboard turns the act of reading content into a casual, social experience and it does that quite well.  You can flip through pretty links and photos (Leo said it was the “photographers dream”).

But what does this mean for serious reading?

I’m a huge content consumer.  My Google Reader has (admittedly) way too many feeds, but I love it.  They’re tailored to exactly what content I want to read, and that’s the first place I go to absorb info on a daily basis.

Once I get that targeted info, I explore what my social network is reading (Twitter links, Facebook posts, Google Buzz, etc).  I’ve gotten a lot of great recommendations on new content sources that I’ll add to my personal feed, but this part of the process is a distant second in terms of where I go to jam my brain.  We can argue whether that’s a good process or not later, but it’s my process.  I’ve perfected it, I’ve perfected what’s being thrown at me, it’s controllable, and I can plug forward.

This is exactly why Flipboard hasn’t floored me yet.  And it’s exactly why NewsRack has.  When it’s the actual content – the words, the information – that you’re after, simplicity wins out. Visualization versus readability.

Yes, I’m an incredibly visually stimulated person (I was really excited about Flipboard).  I LOVE design and good design makes be really happy.  But when it comes down to my behavior, it’s lacking.

I’d love to hear what other people had to say about it?  Does it fit your life?  Am I being close-minded?

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