Flipboard

Last week, Flipboard, a news and social network aggregator, released its first major upgrade in two years.

The signature feature of the new Flipboard is Smart Magazines which curate articles by the thousands of topics and sub-topics Flipboard has organized. Think AI for topics you are passionate about.

Flipboard has been around for almost seven years. Because of its eloquent interface on smartphones and tablets, Flipboard has attracted many lawyers as means of following developments on various topics. Espcecially law bloggers.

But what if you want a magazine made up of specific sources you select rather than the topics selected by Flipboard? That’s where the update and its signature feature, Smart Magazines come in.

Ever since Google Reader shutdown, people have asked us for the ability to create a “folder” for their RSS feeds. The new Flipboard does this but with a powerful twist: you now make a Custom Smart Magazine by mixing any combination of feeds accessible on Flipboard, including other magazines on Flipboard, RSS feeds, and even accounts, hashtags and lists from Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, Flickr, and more.

The resulting magazine becomes a mashup of every feed you select, sorted by date and time. You can flip through the whole magazine or tap the black bar at the bottom of the screen to quickly jump into any one of the component feeds.

Here’s a brief video on using a Smart Magazine to curate content by specific sources such as blogs and news sites that you select.

I have tried Flipboard numerous times over the years. It had an eloquent interface for viewing articles and flipping through the pages. I even suggested that blogging lawyers consider using Flipboard as one way of following sources they’d want to reference in their blogging.

But the news aggregator, Feedly was much easier to use for following sources (blogs, news sources) and subjects (company names and terms of art) and organize them into folders. Folders which can easily be marked as “read” as I skim through my feeds of news.

Feedly is intuitive and easy to use in creating an interface for all your feeds. Flipboard is not intuitive — at least for me. I watched the above video twice and read the Flipboard blog a few teams to figure out how to create a Smart Magazine with curated feeds by source.

I have about thirty folders of feeds on Feedly. Folders that include feeds from a various sources and subjects, including law, publishing, strategic partners, legal services and probono, WordPress, Notre Dame and Gonzaga. Creating 30 Smart Magazines, assuming it was possible would make for an awkward browsing experience.

I also did not see in Flipboard a way to subscribe to subjects mentioned in storties by influential news sources the way I can in Feedly. If I want to see news stories that mention Wolters Kluwer, LexisNexis or Fastcase, I just subscribe to the subjects in Feedly and receive in my feeds the relevant stories from Google News.

Following subjects has always been as important as following sources for me. This way I see things others don’t. I use the stories to strategically engage others, whether it be via Twitter or my blog.

I am sure many lawyers will continue to use Flipboard and find the upgrade pretty nice. No question the interface is slick and some lawyers are publishing their blog to a Flipboard Magazine and picking up a lot of readers as a result.

But I am sticking with Feedly and will continue to use Feedly in my curriculum when teaching law students and lawyers.