March 30, 2013

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Admin: Google Reader and the Future of Panel Patter

Hi All,

I know it's been awhile.  When I am in teaching mode, sometimes Panel Patter takes a bit of a back seat.  I hadn't realized it had been this long.  Thanks for hanging in there.

Many of you are probably aware that Google has killed Google Reader.  It's not dead yet, but the patient is flat-lining and the King of RSS is left without a worthy heir.  (At least not one that I can find as of yet.  Feedly has been the best so far, but lacks the simplicity I loved in Reader.)

Why am I talking about this?  Because I think it impacts heavily on the future and viability of Panel Patter.

I don't know why Google has such a hatred of RSS, because it's really the ideal way to read blogs.  You don't have to keep an unwieldy bookmark file (this never worked for me) and you can pick up where you left off, which is good for those of us who sometimes cannot get back to our favorite sites for a few weeks.

I'm sure a lot of this has to do with monetizing blogs.  I'm not in this for the money.  I don't care about earning ad revenue.  I care about sharing a love of comics, especially those comics that wouldn't make it to the level of the bigger name sites (or even the bigger-name comics bloggers).

It's easy for people to remember to go visit the larger sites (like, oh, say, Newsarama, where I work as a comics reviewer) without an RSS.  It's easy for the mid-range sites (I'm thinking Johanna Draper Carlson's Comics Worth Reading) who have 10+ years to keep people coming back, or even to create a special Twitter/Facebook/what-have-you account that people would follow to get updates.

But I think for those of us who are in the lower-end, who have an audience that's steady but smaller, this is going to have a huge impact.  A person who might have seen a link to our work from a larger site might throw us in an RSS and check us out from time to time.  They are less likely, I think, to sign up to follow updates on a social media page for a person they don't know as well.  (Perhaps that's just my bias?)  Without RSS as a major player, I fear that it's going to make it more difficult for low-level blogging to continue to be viable.

Ultimately, what does this mean for Panel Patter (and its less-used sister blog, Book Stew)?  I don't know.  I   have a home for my as-they're-published comics reviews at Newsarama, and I love it there, but they don't gnerally cover mini-comics or really small indie books or allow me to rave about something from 2009 that I'm only just now discovering.  I really want to keep talking about those things and engaging the comics community in a way that's more on an individual level than I do at 'Rama.

The problem is that I'm no longer sure this is the best way to do it.  Or if I do keep using a blog, will I even have Blogger to do it?  (I know there's Wordpress, but I don't like Wordpress, and I do not want my own site, which would involve coding things.  Me and computer code do not get along.)  Further, if RSS is no longer a viable option, how can I best share things with others?  Create a new Twitter account that's only for posting blog notices?  (My current panelpatter Twitter is personal and blog-related, and I would not want to stop using it to talk about everything from baseball to zoology.)  I tend to feel a little weird about sending things across various social media, but I suppose that's how this game is played, eh?

I'm posting this mostly because a) I don't think I'm the only one thinking about this and b) I'm very much open to suggestions on how to proceed.  In the meantime, I'll keep up here, at least until I see how Google turning out the RSS lights impacts on things.