Google Reader has been in the news a lot this week due to the fact that Google is shutting down the service effective July 1. There has been a lot written about the subject and I wasn’t really planning on adding to the conversation, but then I read Mike Rohde’s article Bye Bye Google Reader and as Mike often does, he inspired me.
What To Do
- If you’re a user of Google Reader, then you should go download your feeds before Monday.
- Tidbits has a nice review of Google Reader alternatives that should give you everything you need to know in finding a new service.
- I also recommend listening to Mac Power Users podcast #143 – RSS and Replacing Google Reader. They go into the weeds, which I happen to like, but they focus on their personal worflows with RSS which is quite insightful.
RSS And I Go Way Back
I really like using RSS. It can quickly become a firehose of information if you’re not careful, but if you like keeping up with certian topics, it’s really hard to beat. Back in early 2004, I switched to Bloglines because it allowed me to have a central repository for my RSS feeds. In turn, this allowed me to review my feeds from any compter, or mobile device and not have to re-read anything. Kind of like IMAP e-mail for for feeds.
Bloglines is now a shell of what it once was mostly due to the fact that so many people migrated to Google Reader, which is what I did. There wasn’t a huge difference between the two services, except for the fact that so many applications began using it as a back-end. For example, Reeder is a popular applicaion on the iPhone and the iPad, which allows you to have a local application to navigate your feeds from Google Reader. Great user experience on the front end, Google Reader on the back end.
What I Did
In 2009, I purchased a license for Fever, a self-hosted application for managing your own feeds. Since I run and manage a web site, it was pretty easy to setup and I’ve been using it ever since. I tried using a 3rd party application like Reeder, which does support Fever, but I found I didn’t need it. Fever works great on your desktop, or mobile devices directly through your web browser.
There’s a really nice review of the Fever done by Chase McCoy that’ll walk you through all the cool features, such as “sparks” and “kindling”. It’s a good read, and I encourage you to do so, but I disagree with his conclusion. Fever wasn’t a good fit for him because there aren’t a lot of apps that support it as a backend and that the 3rd party apps that do are slow to sync. That is all true, but as I’ve already said the web interface is all that’s needed unless you’re looking for off-line access. The Fever interface is a great experience.
If you’re a little bit nerdy and want to give Fever a shot, MacStories has a nice writeup called How Anyone can Install Fever in Ten Minutes.
RSS Still Going Strong
In a world of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and all the other sources of
noise information that come at us everyday, RSS is still a valuable tool that I use everyday. I’m glad I switched from Google Reader early on and thus missed all the drama of the past six months. If you’re still using Google’s service, I hope this article helps you find a solution that works for you as well as Fever has worked for me.