Life after Google Reader

It’s been almost two months since Google announced it would close down its RSS Reader. I blogged about that decision back then, and have been experimenting with alternatives ever since.

My needs: I use RSS heavily as a research tool, watching trends, keeping up with sources, monitoring projects, etc.  I’ve been looking for a RSS tool that lets me organize a lot of feeds into categories, which I can edit as my research agenda develops over time.

Here’s where I’ve ended up.

I: Bloglines on the laptop.

That’s right, old school time.  I used to teach Bloglines to audiences new to RSS, because of its relative simplicity.  After Google announced the death of Reader, Bloglines devoured my refugee Google feeds OPML file, then presented it back to me with all folders intact.  I was able to easily arrange both folders and their contents.  Adding new feeds was (and remains) easy.

Bloglines RSS sample

Other RSS tools have similar advantages, like The Old Reader. But Bloglines took care of OPML ingestion faster and more effectively than any of them, which won my heart.

Bloglines has flaws, however, beyond the crusty design.  For one, the index pane has a hard time displaying the right number of new items.  On startup it takes a while to recognize any new items; sometimes the number is outrageously high (“1000” for 2, or “100” for 1, or “24” for 0).  For another, Bloglines sometimes displays already-read feed content among the new.  And it has no phone app.  Which brings us to…

II. Feedly on the phone.

Feedly is a very slick application.  Once it finishes loading after an annoying pause, it lets you flick and swipe rapidly through RSS content.  I’ve been able to use Feedly while running on a treadmill.  It’s also nice to see Feedly finally moved away from depending on Google Reader’s continued existence.

One major problem for me is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to edit the contents of a folder.  I’d like to rearrange the order of feeds, especially since the Google OPML import process alphabetized many of them.  But they appear to be locked in place.  If there’s a fix for this, I’d try laptop Feedly once more.

III. Nothing on the tablet.

To be honest, I’m not using a tablet these days.  My laptop remains the workhorse of my day, and my Galaxy Note serves well when I’m on the run.  I do use a Kindle reader, but not for Web work.

IV. Social media… everywhere.

While I don’t buy the argument that social media has defeated RSS, I have shifted some of my Google Reader reading to several sites.  I follow some active folks on Tumblr (no, I’m not posting there.  Not yet), more on Google+, and more still on Twitter.  Several researchers and other interesting people tweet more often and with more thoughts than they blog.  Facebook isn’t proving that useful for my research, as the majority of people I interact with prefer conversing as a personal level.  App.net remains quiet.

Meanwhile, I’m also trying out Blogtrottr.  This is an unusual, perhaps unique service which emails users new RSS content.  Each email has been useful so far.

Overall, it’s a hodgepodge.  Bloglines and Feedly obviously don’t talk to each other, so I have to skim feeds I’ve already read when I move between devices.  I miss Google Reader, from its smooth flow to easy integration with other G-services.

What else: I await the proposed Digg reader, and answered some of their preparatory surveys. I would like to try Fever, but haven’t had the time.

How about you?  How’s the new RSS universe? Any suggestions?

(thanks to Maree Conway for her thoughts)

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9 Responses to Life after Google Reader

  1. gregor says:

    I moved to fever hosted on a virtual server in the cloud that I had going anyway. Fever is a paid app ($30), but you get the source.
    On iPhone, Reeder works with fever. The web interface is good enough on the desktop, and ok on the ipad. iPad Reeder doesn’t yet support fever.
    It’s working pretty well– I like that reeder is caches the feeds, so I’m not interrupted by the dead spots on my way to work.
    Reeder doesn’t seem to update with folder changes on fever– I might have to delete it and reconnect. Not a worry since everything is synced.

    Like

  2. Gabor says:

    I switched to Feedly too and on the desktop I can edit the order of feeds in a folder.
    1. Click Organize link top left, under your name
    2. Expand the folder you want to reorder, by clicking the “# more sources” link at its bottom
    3. Drag the items up and down. (This worked in Chrome, but not in Firefox and Safari)

    And just for the record, beyond the options you listed I installed TinyTinyRSS ( http://tt-rss.org ), but found its refreshing method too slow. I liked the idea f not relying on a third party, just on my own ISP

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  3. No luck with dragging items up and down, Gabor. The crosshairs cursor appears, but no feed actually changes places.

    Like

  4. Yeah, I already asked for it.
    Feedly feels very magazine-y, and what you and I are talking about is a different kind of function.

    Like

  5. bboessen says:

    Just saw this (by finally getting around to moving through my RSS feeds). I’ve switched to Feedly pretty much exclusively – I tried several things and liked it the best (it’s most like Google Reader imo). I tend to just let things collect until I have a little time to cull through them, so I don’t use folders – I just move through them from oldest to newest on the “All” view. It’s probably crazy to think I can really keep up with all of it, but I’m still trying. (And I do limit the feeds to which I subscribe – I try aggregator feeds for a while and then decide whether they are worth the extra couple minutes scanning them.)

    I have a plugin/script/something for Twitter that scrapes it for tweets that include links and then forwards them all as an RSS feed, so I’m getting a large number of my tweets in my reader also. On the plus side, I don’t feel so beholden to keep up-to-date with my Twitter feed, but it tends to mean that I don’t check Twitter as often either, so I know I’m missing out on a lot of the little bon mots from that feed.

    I also don’t find Facebook that useful for work, but that could be because I haven’t set it up that way: my colleague Erin Copple Smith started a FB group on “teaching media” (our field), and it’s been incredibly useful for her in doing things like planning assignments and discussing thorny work problems.

    Like

    • Professional use of Facebook seems to require two things: that your personal network there includes a critical mass of peers; that your subfield is represented sufficiently.

      I’m glad Feedly works for you. I do like it on my phone, especially when I’m on the treadmill.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Seven years, 20,000 tweets, and counting | Bryan Alexander

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