The Lamentation of Google Reader

In 2005 Google launched its brilliant Reader service. It pulled in the RSS feeds from your favourite websites and displayed them all in an convenient and easy to read format on one page. When you scrolled past something it marked it as read and it didn’t display it again. It was utter elegance in it’s simplicity. It just worked.

If you never used it, this is what it looked like:

Google-Reader-screenshot (1)

In March 2013 Google announced that they would be removing Reader on the 1st July 2013. It may have had a small but niche following, but geeks all over the world despaired as they rushed around to find a replacement service.

There was not a good replacement service. Well, I never found one anyway.

Until today.

I have tried many RSS readers, none were quite satisfactory. Some wanted me to view content primarily on my phone, some were just plain ugly and some just ate memory resources (I’m looking at you RSS Bot).

Today I found Slick RSS, an extension for Chrome.

It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 09.29.50

And that’s pretty much exactly what I want. I’ve not yet checked if it syncs across both my computers but I’d settle for a working RSS feed on just one right now. It’s better than none.

Of course the real question is why I need a RSS reader. The answer is that going to websites and places like Pinterest of Facebook Pages is dangerous when you’re a freelancer with a serious lack of self control. I went on this morning to check if she had a new recipe that I might fancy cooking tonight and ended up losing myself on there for the best part of half an hour. An RSS reader gives you the news you want to see and absolutely nothing else. Which is good if you need to be a bit more single-minded with your approach.

Tools should work for you, not against you. Websites and their RSS feeds are a tool for me. I use them for both work and personal use and since I love what I do for work, it can be hard not to get engrossed in the websites on a personal level while I’m visiting places to keep up with the latest news.

This also means that I can subscribe to services and forget about them while still keeping on top of things. For instance the latest press releases from an art gallery or the feed of new product releases from a camera manufacturer. All things that I wouldn’t ususally think to check every day by going to their website, but an RSS feed makes it very easy.

And ultimately since I seem to be going down the blogging route for at least part of my income, this means that I have lots of the latest news right at my fingertips, every day in the morning when I sit down to have my first cup of tea of the tea. Perfect.