Ruminations on Google Reader

When I was back writing for Brighthand, keeping on top of the news cycle wasn’t just something to do, it was essential to keeping that gig. So, like many who follow news, propose to be some kind of fan of journalism, or just are insane in the membrane concerning reading, RSS became one of my best tech features. And as I learned about RSS, I also became a fan of those services, browsers, and apps that made RSS work according to my needs. Google Reader easily became the best option for me, and news of its soon-to-come demise should have been met with shock. But, it isn’t shocking to me. I’m more than ready to move on.

Even though I use Google Reader as my morning newspaper, I’m ready to move on. Of the 150 websites that I subscribed to (now down to 88), there were too many cases of duplicate headlines on those busy days (even the regular new sites that I subscribed to gave too much coverage to Apple and Samsung releases). Google Reader was solid enough as a web app (the iPhone/Android-touch version of the site really was right up my alley to those first-of-the morning readings. But, when I got to the middle or end of the day, being presented with hundreds of pieces of content, most of which that I won’t read, just made for some kind of discouragement.

I’ve got the N9 now, and this idea of an Activity screen is a pretty inventive one. I see a stream of content from Twitter and any RSS feeds that I choose (right now, its only my activity stream from LinkedIn). There’s no intelligence there, but its always the most relevant items that I can use. I imagine that the most relevant way that Google Reader can be usable to me going forward is if I could plug my N9’s activity stream into it, and then get notifications on those items that I’m most likely to read, and the regular stream of items that I would not. On a techie end, that would mean that all of the streams would come via RSS, but there would be some kind of marker that I can make that shows a notification (by website) of those items that I most likely want to see. Those notifications would have to have an expiration date to them. Because I don’t need to litter that area any.

Google isn’t really interested in going that route. There might be other feed readers that do something like that, but it would require a bit more wrangling of their terms of service, APIs, and possibly even some learning on my end. Google Reader was good for me for the season that I needed it. But, like with the N9, perhaps I’m evolving past mobile and web in such a way that the things that I used to do I don’t do like that any more. is about the only service that I’m getting behind as worth checking out right now. Russell Beattie’s work has been on my mind for several years now. Other than that, its about learning how to make my own news service. One that uses me as the web service, and then moves like forward as relevant and timely news should.