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  • March 8, 2013 8:50 am

    When does Flipboard flip?

    You’ve almost certainly seen this news if you read any other tech sites (if you only read this one, hi!)—or, of course, if you use Facebook: they’ve redesigned their news feed to be bigger, brighter, more photo-ier.

    The arguments on The Verge's comments are all about whether Facebook copied Google+ or Google+ copied Facebook. (Consensus so far: first the latter, but now the former.) Dan Gillmor, once one of the best old media tech columnists (at the San Jose Mercury News) and now a guy who I mostly only hear about when he's being cranky, snarked on Twitter, “So, journalism orgs, you still think Facebook’s not your most serious competitor?”… and linked to an insightful article on Business Insider by Alyson Shontell which didn’t say that at all. (It’s also weird to write the phrase “insightful article on Business Insider” without following it up with hahahahaha, isn’t it?) Shontell wrote,

    The changes will be the biggest in News Feed’s 7-year history. They’ll make [it] easier to sort through and more personalized. But one of the points Zuckerberg has been hammering home today seems to be a swipe at Flipboard, a social iPad news reader.

    Flipboard, of course, is actually also on all iOS and Android devices, so it’s nice to see the balance of the universe hasn’t shifted too much and BI does still get trivially-checkable facts embarrassingly wrong. But no, Dan, you’ve got it wrong: what goes in your Facebook news feed remains be a stream of links and photos provided by people you follow. Some of those links will be genuine news articles, no doubt. But Facebook isn’t trying to compete with news media. They’re trying to make it easier than ever for us to cocoon ourselves into our own filter bubbles to reinforce that the people we already agree with have all the good points and the people we already disagree are even worse than we knew. So relax! That’s got to be good for the national conversation, right?

    So. I know that most of the buzz about Flipboard two years ago or so was primarily among Apple nerds and I have no idea how popular it’s been on Android, but… has anyone been talking about them lately? Not that I’ve seen. Are any of you still using Flipboard regularly? I confess that as much as I love the idea, I never got it into my daily flow.

    My prediction is that within a year Flipboard will—well, let’s not say pivot, because it’s such an annoying word. But it’s going to slide a bit in one direction or another. It doesn’t ultimately matter whether they’re doing what they do better than Facebook—and for that matter, Google—do. Facebook and Google just have to do it usably, and they’ve hit that point. Which means you probably don’t want to be sharing quite the same space with them anymore.