Why I don't use Google Reader anymore

An hour or so ago I wrote a post over on my Posterous Blog about why I don’t use Google Reader much anymore and it’s already gotten a ton of interesting comments and been viewed 1,600 times. Since it’s the middle of the night in San Francisco, that tells me it was a popular post and I wanted to make sure that those of you who are just reading me only here (probably because you’re using an RSS reader) I wanted to make sure you had a chance to see this and comment on it.

17 Replies to “Why I don't use Google Reader anymore”

  1. Seems ironic, but I found this post on Google Reader. On my Twitter stream, it was water under the bridge, long gone. Google Reader kept it where I'd find it later. My online life is *not* real time. I have a day job, a family, dare I say it, a life.

  2. I diagnose your problem as subscription-addiction. You're addicted to hitting the subscribe (or “follow”, or equivalent) button.

    Q. Why do you have 1000 unread items?
    A. Because you are subscribed to thousands of feeds, and no normal human being can read all that.

    Q. Why are you subscribed to thousands of feeds?
    A. Because you see one good piece of content, or even mediocre piece of content, and you hit the subscribe button. You treat content as if it's a social network. Look at what you once did on Twitter: auto-followed everybody who followed you. Why are you following these people? Did you actually care what they had to say?

    Google Reader is not a social network, in its base form (ignore the social features for a minute). It's a feed reader. You should subscribe to feeds based on the quality of the feeds themselves. If a feed has 1% good content, and you subscribe to it, then that's 99% crap filling your to-be-read pile.

    Try this for a while: Stop subscribing to everything, and apply a filter on the front end, before you subscribe. Only subscribe to feeds that have more than 50% good content. Only subscribe to feeds where you think that you want to read, or at least skim, every single entry in that feed. For a normal human being, this should be under 100 feeds. Seriously.

    Now, for the social networking portion of Google Reader, you can basically “subscribe” to other people's shared items. This is fine, but apply the same filtration system. Only subscribe to people who consistently share content you care to see. Don't worry about them being offended that you don't subscribe to them, just tell them “if you want me to read your shared items, then you should share better items”.

    As time goes on, this will become slowly unmanageable, however it should last *years* before this occurs. When it does get too great a volume, then you do a purge. Skim through the unread items, and if you find an item that doesn't interest you or is crap, then you unsubscribe from that feed/person.

    The idea is to keep your set of subscriptions limited. What you're doing now is the equivalent of trying to fill a paper cup from a firehose. You need to turn down the incoming water supply in order for the cup to be filled properly, you can't just spray the whole thing at the cup without it tearing the cup to shreds.

    Hey, this basic strategy worked for Twitter, no? You stopped following everybody and it made it much more useful. So why in the world are you still subscribed to thousands of feeds in GReader?

  3. I love Twitter and use it as much as anything else, but it doesn’t replace Google Reader for my. I certainly use GR less than I used to, but even though I have hundreds of feeds and 1000’s of unread items, I still find it very valuable and find information there that I don’t anywhere else. It runs quick for me also. I wouldn’t have seen your blog post without it. And, I am able to categorize and better process incoming information with it. Its use has diminished but I wouldn’t write it off, it keeps getting better. I love the new recommendations feature which works very well for me and the ability to post incoming items of interest directly to my blog through share.

  4. Hi Robert

    Thanks for the heads up on lists I may actually find Twitter useful now. I've purposely kept my follow count very low because I find the signal to noise ration on Twitter appalling.

    I'd have never found your article if it hadn't been delivered by RSS to my feedly account (which I absolutely love and is one of the reasons why I have stuck with firefox, although I'm using Chrome more and more) What are you using to view your Twitter account with ? Personally I like the elegant way in which feedly presents info.

    Twitter will have to seriously upgrade it's architecture to be able to cope with becoming an RSS replacement for the world.

  5. Hm. I didn't comment on Posterous because I didn't want to log in using Posterous, Twitter or Facebook. I don't mind Disqus though.

    Twitter is not even an overlap with RSS for me. I don't use RSS to follow news, and I don't use Twitter to follow news. I use RSS to read *articles* – in-depth articles – by lots of folks whose opinions I respect. Twitter can in no way replace that; a soundbite isn't a well-formed opinion.

  6. I think one thing is to pick the time to review all the information, but I agree that the layout for twitter is faster for reviewing larger amounts of information. One of the problems with RSS is that many times the headlines don’t have enough information so you are kind of baffled what the person is actually going to say in the article. In twitter, people tend to summarize the information better.

  7. Add this to the everlasting list of insanely-hyped Scoble-goop-stuff, that gets dropped almost as soon…onto newer & shiner, which will be just as summarily dumped, once it’s no longer new or shiny. Oh, squirrels.

    If SGS (Scoble-goop-stuff,) = H(Hyped) and EC U (Edge Case Use) remains constant then FT(Failure Time) = 6 months (or less).

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