By Justin Cox – Originally on Huffington Post
I usually prefer to read something before I decide if I want to share it with my friends. The Washington Post Social Reader removes the ability to make that choice, and that’s why it’s junk.
The decision to share is made when the reader clicks the headline, rather than while the reader consumes the product. The headline becomes the only traffic driver with real impact.
It’s like me saying, “Hey, I saw a flier for a band is called Archers of Loaf. You should really listen to them.” If I haven’t listened and decided for myself, I’m not going to make the recommendation, because I have no idea whether they’re good or not.
I know that you can privatize your settings on the Reader (I just did it), but they don’t make it simple. They want reckless sharing on Facebook. (Stacks of printed paper don’t pay for themselves).
I learned that Snooki reached her target weight of 98 pounds via the Social Reader. In doing so, I shared the article with all of my friends.
The truth is, I click those kinds of articles somewhat regularly. I’m fine with sinking 30 seconds of time on occasion to satisfy my curiosity. I don’t get consumed, but I do like to know what’s going on for some reason. I think it’s partly so that I understand late-night TV jokes and Bill Simmons podcast references.
I read a story last week about Kris Humphries and his ex, Kardashian. The (horrendously written) story is pasted below.
I hadn’t realized until reading that article that not all of the WPSR stories are actual Washington Post stories. This one was actually written by Wetpaint.com, a TV-gossip site that covers the Kardashians heavily. The first sentence was a mangled-up disaster, and it only slightly recovered from there.
Note: I’m fully aware that I’ve probably left a half-dozen typos in this blog post. My defense is this: First, it’s not the Washington Post. Second, the first sentence is coherent, and that’s all most people read on the internet. Like my blog on Facebook!
Here’s a bit of that Humphries/Kardashian article. Imagine finding this in the actual Washington Post:
While the January 9 episode of Kourtney & Kim Take New York the one touted as the beginning of the end of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries 72-day marriage lit up small screens round the globe, Kris was at his computer typing some cryptic messages…
…Kris tweet hit the Interweb right around the same time Kim was dropping this bomb on Momager Kris Jenner on-screen…
On another note: Take a look at this headline, and then read the first sentence of the story.
Just about any football fan in the country would click that headline. And then every single one of them would want to pour coffee all over Michael Kun’s keyboard after reading the first line.
But that wouldn’t accomplish much. You’d have already shared his piece-of-junk article.
Note: I realize that the Huffington Post and other sites have similar Facebook social readers. As soon as I feel like they’re exploiting the situation on the same level as the Washington Post, I’ll write about it. If you’ve got more knowledge or thoughts, share below.