Like many other people online, I’m a heavy user of the Google Reader application now left to find some replacement for this aggregator of interesting news that I’ve subscribed to. I know that Reader had some social features at some point, but I’ve never actually used them. There was a single thing that I valued about Reader: it allowed me to leave off checking my feeds on one computer, and resume later on a different box. It’s a “cloud-based” RSS reader, to use the modern parlance.
Since Google has announced that they’re cutting the service off, I’m now looking for an alternative. But first, let’s take a look at what I have right now:
There’s my feed. I use Google Reader in its most simple mode; a continuous list of entries ordered from oldest to newest with previously-read entries hidden and with article content inline. As I scroll past each message, it’s automatically marked as read; and I use the “Keep unread” option to mark things that I pass by now, but want to take a look at when I have more time.
While much of this could be gotten via social media, the experience is completely different. Social Media is constantly running in a ”push” stream. It always shows you the newest thing first, popping that down and out of view as soon as something else comes in. Social media is limited to tiny sound bite clips. With the RSS experience I use, it’s the other way around; things wait for me to come view them, and I see everything come in the order that it happened. (Particularly important if I, say, don’t check one day and miss a strip from a daily comic!) The longer form allows you to get at minimum a detailed introduction into what is linked; and many sites will inline entire articles and full-sized images so you can browse without even opening another tab.
I’m sure lots of other services are popping up now with alternatives to the soon-to-be-gone Google Reader. I’m trying a few of them, and I’ll let you know how they go, in these follow-up articles: