Time to Pick Up a New Newsreader

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I have been consuming newsfeeds since Pointcast (1996) and CDF/IE 4.0 (1998) so obviously once RSS gained momentum about a decade ago, I got hooked. It remains my main way to keep on top of both fresh news and background material. In recent years I tried several times setting up Twitter (by itself and via desktop clients such as Tweetdeck) but never reached an acceptable signal/noise ratio so I gave up and only check it out once in a while, certainly less than my daily RSS consumption.

For a long time I used desktop clients such as Newsgator or FeedDemon, until their gradual demise. For me like for many other people, at some point Google Reader became the de facto cloud based, cross-device replacement. Despite most RSS hot companies from circa 2007 falling out of favor for a lack of viable mass-market business model, Google had a good shot at sustaining the format for general user with both Feedburner and Reader. Yet they actively sabotaged the former, while they just announced they would shut down the latter in July. OK, shut down stuff that’s actually useful so people can continue to ignore Google+, that makes a lot of sense. Well in the crazy world of megacorps it does. I knew years ago they would go on a portfolio cleansing purge eventually, I just didn’t expect them to shut down the good stuff.

Anyway, I “migrated” my personal selection of 500+ feeds to Feedly and I quite like it so far (technically I just migrated my reading since the feeds are still handled by Google in the background I believe). Despite a couple of error messages, the migration process was overall pretty smooth. At first glance it seems a viable alternative for the power user who needs a UI that allows high volume speed reading, for which glossy readers such as Pulse or Flipboard are ill-advised. Either the guys at Feedly had been wisely crouching for months, ready to jump in anticipation of this moment, or they’re amazingly responsive. Either way, well done. The experience on Chrome is pretty good, I have not had time to try the Android and iOS clients yet.

For the time being I plan to keep using Netvibes for work where I follow a whole different set of 900+ feeds. It’s a much more deadline-oriented pressured desktop workflow where Netvibes works OK. The Google Reader/Feedly user experience is more for catching up during downtime / off work, mostly on phone/tablet.

Update 1: header on Netvibes today: “If you’re experiencing slowdowns or feed latency, please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users.”

Update 2Matt Haughey’s thoughts. I’ve been able to set up Feedly’s options to my liking in Chrome and on my Galaxy SII, to the extent that it still feels a little bit different yet as productive to use as Reader was. I haven’t tried it on the iPad yet, which I use mostly for work and to read long ebooks. The big question is whether Feedly and their “Normandy” API will prove a viable long-term replacement to store and manage subscriptions once Reader is offline. They say they added half a million users in just a couple of days. The capable way they handled Reader’s bust is rather encouraging.

Update 3: 3 months to scale Newsblur.

Update 4: Jason Shellen on Reader’s early days.

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