Oh John Carroll

Tag: google reader

Marco Arment on Google Reader, RSS and the open web:

That world formed the web’s foundations — without that world to build on, Google, Facebook, and Twitter couldn’t exist. But they’ve now grown so large that everything from that web-native world is now a threat to them, and they want to shut it down. “Sunset” it. “Clean it up.” “Retire” it. Get it out of the way so they can get even bigger and build even bigger proprietary barriers to anyone trying to claim their territory.

RSS Recommendation

As a longtime Google Reader user, I’ve spent the past month searching for a new service to replace it. In fact, I’ve probably spent too much time mulling over this. Ultimately, I chose Feed Wrangler. I thought I’d tell you why:

1. Feed Wrangler’s David Smith created his own apps. As someone who primarily browses RSS feeds via phone or tablet, it was important that I wouldn’t change much of my “workflow” when switching. While the apps aren’t perfect, they look sharp and don’t impede my reading. Furthermore, I know who David Smith is. He makes sharp-looking mobile applications, like Check the Weather.

2. Feed Wrangler offers an API. If you know what an API is, you don’t need me to explain this. If you don’t know what an API is, I’ll keep it simple: it’s what allows other developers to create applications that access the information within Feed Wrangler. If you’re a Google Reader user and have accessed the service through anything but the web site, you’re using an app that made use of the Google Reader API. Since the service is fairly new, there aren’t too many applications using Feed Wrangler, but a few are and many more are promising to do so — including my favorite multi-platform RSS app, Reeder.

3. Feed Wrangler isn’t free. I thought it was important to pay for RSS service this time around. Why? Well, Google Reader was an excellent RSS service: it was almost never down, it always delivered the content I subscribed to, it was free and it offered a public API. Pretty much anyone who used RSS used Google Reader. And it shut down, because it wasn’t profitable. There are other factors, of course. Google was probably hoping to push users to Google+, for instance. Ultimately, though, Google Reader would still be available after July 1 if there was a way for Google to make money from it. Feed Wrangler won’t have the most users on July 2nd, but I certainly know it has a better chance of being in business five years from now than Feedly. And even if Feedly can make money off of their service, would I rather pay Feed Wrangler or view Feedly’s ads? Obviously, you know my answer.

4. Easy to import, easy to export. As thousands of Google Reader users flock to new RSS options, easy importing is a must-have feature, and one that many are boasting. But it’s also important for these new services to offer excellent exporting. After all, the ugly truth in all of this is that the best Google Reader alternative may not even exist yet. And if it doesn’t, I want to know that my data not only exists on my computer (via Google Takeout, which you should use by tomorrow if you haven’t already), but is also easily exportable from my current service of choice.

Feed Wrangler fulfills all of these needs, which is why I chose to subscribe to the service for a year. Of course, everyone’s needs are a little different. I, for instance, did not use the Google Reader web site very often, which offered a number of features that you might rely on. If Feed Wrangler doesn’t do the trick for you, I recommend checking out other services I liked but didn’t opt for: Feedbin and Newsblur.

Speaking Of RSS

With all of this RSS talk, I should link to my feed location.  In fact, it’s now permanently located in the sidebar of this site.

It’s All Around You →

Brent Simmons on why you should care about RSS, even if you don’t know what it is or what it stands for:

RSS is plumbing. It’s used all over the place but you don’t notice it. Which is cool.

This is elegance. It derives from the design of the internet and the web and its many open standards — designed so that no entity can control it, so that it survives stupidity and greed when it appears.

RSS is largely misunderstood.  For example: any number of blogs that think limiting their feed will drive me to their web site.

“Sunset Period” →

Google Reader will shut down on July 1st.  This is probably the Google service I use the most — I bet I spend more time in it than e-mail.

The upside: another kick in the pants that I should take services important to me off of Google.

Google’s Lost Social Network →

While I can’t call myself a “Sharebro,” I was certainly an avid Google Reader user who hated the changes to Google’s RSS reader.  Rob Fishman writes about the history of Google’s organic social network for BuzzFeed:

They wonder why Google deep-sixed superlative features, years in the making, for an upstart social network, a Facebook clone. In the year past, the same question has been framed and phrased in a thousand different ways — why force an unproven social network on users at the expense of an organic one?

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