In this installment of the Goodbye Google series, I tackle one of the more daunting missions: finding a way to read my RSS feeds on all my platforms without having to use Google Reader as the ultimate source.
It’s important to note that I do almost all of my RSS reading on my iPad, and my app of choice for that is Reeder. The functionality and sharing options that exist within the app make it a pleasure to use, not mention simple to rely on as a source of material for some of what you find here and wherever else I write online. Reeder, however, uses Google Reader as the source of its feed importing and syncing. So that’s going to pose a problem right off the bat.
I feel an uphill battle coming on.1
The Conventional Alternatives
Fever seems like a viable alternative – perhaps the most viable – with it being a paid service and requiring no Google Reader integration. But the front end work is what has put me off.
I’ve made it clear before that I’m not averse to putting in time to make something work for my needs, but I just don’t want to invest that kind of time right now into rejigging my RSS setup.
I’ve heard from various sources that while Netvibes will do the trick, it is a bit unwieldy to use. I want as seamless an RSS experience as possible. Any friction slows down what I’m in the reader to do – which is read.
Bloglines was bought by MerchantCircle, but they say that they aren’t “going anywhere”. That’s good news.
However, they are in beta under something called Bloglines Local. That’s bad news…at least for me.
I don’t know what any of the stuff going on over Bloglines means, other than I don’t want to take the time to find out.
Another viable option, especially the native Mac due to its ability to segregate itself from Google Reader. But from what I could tell, the iOS apps needed Google Reader to work, and I wasn’t about to switch up from Reeder to NetNewsWire if that was the case.2
I hadn’t heard of this one until I started doing some research, but as soon as I arrived at the service’s website I was immediately turned off. Too damn noisy. Even if Newsblur isn’t like that behind the home page, the first impression left a bad taste in my mouth.
The Unconventional Alternatives
I really like Zite. I can pick the topics I’m interested in and get random posts from all over the web that fall into those topics. I can also customize the experience even further by voting up or down certain types of stories. That tells Zite to choose (or avoid) more articles from that source or that more closely resemble what the gist of the stories I vote on.
But in order to get specific feeds, I would have to do a bit more filtering. More than I’d like. So I use Zite for random reads on topics I’m interested in, but not for specific reads – that’s what I use Reeder for.
This is another app that I really enjoy using. I could use it as an RSS reader, but that would require syncing it up with Google Reader. I’m not going to be doing that.
I haven’t dove in to whether or not I can add individual feeds to Flipboard, but it seems possible. Flipboard looks as if it could be a viable replacement (if not an unconventional one) for my current RSS setup.
The services and apps I love just keep on coming.
I suppose I could use this as an RSS reader of sorts, but that’s not what it is meant for. I look at Instapaper as the equivalent of favouriting a tweet (on a much larger scale, of course) in that I want to take the time to look at whatever I mark for Instapaper and don’t want to lose track of it. I favourite tweets for this purpose as well, and usually retweet them at a much later date – once I have gotten the most out of them or read whatever the favourited tweet had attached to it (a link, for example).
So I guess you could say they both are a form of “tickler file”, to use GTD terms.
I’d say that Instapaper augments my RSS experience. It isn’t meant to replace it.
There’s a lot of buzz going on about Readability right now (Ben Brooks and Chris Bowler are just two of the many that immediately come to mind). I suppose it could function in the same manner as Instapaper for my needs, except it has one major flaw that keeps it at arms’ length. It’s a free service.
I pay for Instapaper. I’m not the product to Marco. As for how Readability views me, I think they look at me the same way Google does. So that’s a problem.
A lot of the websites I follow have Twitter feeds that spill out whatever they have posted. I could simply streamline my Twitter experience across all of my platforms and only use Twitter as a means of RSS.
But that sounds like a lot of work for a less than optimal experience.
Google Reader: Removed or Retained?
I said that this part of my journey was daunting, but it was pretty much a suicide mission. Either I leave RSS behind altogether and go with something unconventional as my source of ongoing online reading, or I grin and bear it and stick with something that is essentially “powered” by Google Reader. The former is just too much work for me to take on right now. And Reeder is a pretty sweet app.
You win this round, Google. And it’s starting to look like you may just win the fight.
Next time: Abandoning Google Apps
1If I had read this article from ReadWriteWeb first (from back in October 2011), I might have thought harder about setting foot on the battlefield altogether.
2A bit of irony: Google Groups hosts the NetNewsWire forums. Sigh.