Replacing Reader, Part 1: What’s the Big Deal?

If I may borrow from Judith Viorst, March 13th, 2013 was one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. There were no lima beans involved, but that was the day Google announced it was pulling the plug on Google Reader.

Along with Gmail, Reader is one of the very few web services I use virtually every day. RSS and I go way back, at least ten years; I recall that when I was finishing up my library technician diploma, one of my final projects was based on RSS. I’ve been kind of an evangelist ever since – in the law library where I worked, my boss and I offered lunch ‘n’ learns about “those little orange icons”, and Steve‘s enthusiasm for and creativity with the technology was one of the big reasons we clicked as colleagues.

My first RSS aggregator was Bloglines, which I loved. But as they say, nothing lasts forever, and after a few years, it became clear to most Bloglines users that they’d need to find a new solution. When I finally made the switch in 2008, the transition was not that hard. Sadly, Bloglines had become so unpredictable that it was a pleasure to use a new, if unfamiliar, service (Google Reader) that actually worked, even though I wasn’t in love with it. But somehow, through daily personal and professional use of Google Reader, I became a huge fan. So, when I heard the news it was being axed, I genuinely felt anguished.

I’m not alone. Martha Sperry recently wrote,

“I have had an awful lot of loss recently. Some quite personal, and some smack in the public eye. Take, for instance, the untimely (although not unexpected) demise of perhaps my all time favorite web tool, my secret weapon in the pursuit of knowledge, my endless font of material for my beloved blog, my source of inspiration and enlightenment. Yes. I am talking about Google Reader.”

Tweet after tweet, post after post – folks felt angry, distraught, and dare I say, betrayed by Google’s announcement. Immediately, every tech site worth its salt was offering up lists of potential replacements, but few really had any concrete endorsements.

It surprised me how vexed I was by the loss. Thankfully, there were still several months to go before Google pulled the plug, so I opted to let the news sink in, and take my time in finding a solution. This 3-part series will detail my experiences in finding a replacement for Reader. Check back next week for Part 2.

  1. Gwynne said:

    Bloglines! Totally forgot about that one.

    It will not be surprising if elements of Reader show up in Google+. Wave has, which is nice to see.

    Curious to see what you’ve been testing out as a replacement…

    @ 9:26 am
  2. Karen said:

    Argh! A cliff hanger! Thanks a lot Emma. Now I’m going to have to check my reader for the next installment 😉

    @ 10:17 am

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