Yesterday Google announced that they would be powering down their RSS aggregator, Google Reader, in June, and there was much gnashing of teeth online. (Well, SOME gnashing of teeth.) Actually, how does one gnash a tooth, anyway?
Today, there’s a petition to save Google Reader that is on pace to get 75 thousand signatures today, and already people WAY SMARTER AND KNOWLEDGABLE than me are discussing options for the future.
Phil Bradley’s put together a nice blog about alternatives to Google Reader. You can see it here.
What I take away from Phil Bradley is that there isn’t any one thing quite like Google Reader, but that you can probably make do with what’s out there. Just like the Rolling Stones told us, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need”. The other thing I get is that I really really need to get myself an iPad (or at least an iPad mini) STAT so I can try out Zite and Pulse. Can I convince Marla that it is work related? There IS a birthday coming up, and I sure don’t need a sewing machine…
Anyway, I’m a relatively new user to Google Reader. I actually only found out about it after attending the Canadian Library Association conference in 2009. (I know, I’m not very good at keeping up with work-related tech.) When I got home, I created an account and started to seek out all kinds of blogs and news-sites that I knew I should be following. I’ll never miss a news story or blog post again! was my thought at the time.
I liked the idea of RSS. I liked the idea that you could subscribe to certain sites and they would send you a notice when there was new material. Not only just a notice, actually, but a link to the content as well. You could stick them into categories to make it easy to sort. Cut out the middle man! No ads!
Oh yeah, I’m guessing that had something to do with Google killing it, right? I mean I don’t know how much money they were actually making from maintaining a news reader, even though it was well used and well loved by a large number of us geek and nerd crowd.
I’m not really all that sad to see it go, actually. It’s been MONTHS since I even logged into it. I really only used it earnestly for about a month or so after I got home from the conference, and then I really started to get into Twitter in a big way. Twitter seemed more intuitive, and you could set up categories (which I did) so I could filter library stuff, music stuff, news stuff, personal friends stuff, etc. It was so much more “present” than Google Reader ever was for me. You had to go into Google, and then sign in, and then find Google reader under the “More” drop down screen. (Yes, nerds, I know there is probably a way to edit my preferences so that Reader appeared in the top menu, but I never did that.) Also it seemed like an ordeal to add or remove a feed, or to retag a feed into a different category (again, I KNOW it’s not that difficult, its just the PERCEPTION of difficulty, which is one in the same thing, right?)
The advantage of Google Reader was that you pretty much felt like you wouldn’t miss anything from a particular blog that you followed. With Twitter, there still seems to be a bit of a random quality to it. Rather than actually being fed items, on Twitter, you kind of “brush up” against things. Having a friend ask, “Did you see that thing I retweeted?” and me responding in the negative is a pretty common occourance. And like Phil Bradley said, you always feel like you’re missing some of the good stuff, but I think that’ll happen no matter how one interacts with the web. Someone somewhere is having an awesome time and we weren’t invited.
Before I go, to give you an idea of what I thought important to follow in 2009 (since I didn’t really update things all that much between now and then), here’s a little peak at my Google Reader index before it all disappears July 1st
In my News folder, I followed a couple of CBC feeds, The Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times, (all of which I now follow on Twitter).
I had a “Humour” folder that had The Onion and John Hodgman (again, both of whom I follow on the Tweets).
I then had a series of library related folders. It was quite uneven and tangential. More “Library of Congress” than “Dewey Decimal” if you know what I mean. I had a folder called “Fun Library Stuff” another one for “Reader’s Advisory”, one for “Library Technology” and yet another for “Library-General”. What was I thinking? Sad to see that over half of the feeds that I use to follow are no longer actively producing. “Book Ninja” in particular was an awesome one, and it’s absence is a real loss.
Rounding out the list was a “Sports” folder that followed “The Tao of Stieb” and two other Blue Jays’ bloggers. Why I didn’t call the folder, “baseball” or even simply “Blue Jays” is a mystery lost in the mists of time.
My “Author” folder had just one blog. But I guess if you’re following just one author, it might as well be Neil Gaiman, right?
Similarily, my “Music” folder was following just one blog devoted to one band. Can anyone guess which band that might be?
Weirdly, I had a folder called “Gadgets” and it housed only one blog too. It was this one called “Cool Tools” and it just combed the web for cool gadgets, everything from cool laptop cases to neat kitchen tools. It’s still in operation and worth a look.
My last category was simply called “Inspiration” and I don’t even remember this blog or why I followed it. It’s called “Zebra Sounds”. It hasn’t been updated in a few months and from a quick scroll through the posts I don’t see ANYTHING remotely inspiring about it.
Oh, and there were two blogs that weren’t in any folder at all. “The Martian Hop” and “The Little Read Engine”, both written by people I know and I guess I just never got around to assigning them to a folder.
So there you have it: a quick stroll through what I thought was important in 2009. So long, Google Reader. Hello Zite and Pulse! Can’t wait to try you out (and more than likely promptly forget and neglect you days later). Well at least I might be able to leverage an iPad out of all this, right?