Ode to Google Reader

Google Reader is dying, but increasingly it appears that I am still going to be there, holding its hand, pleading with it not to leave me, until it takes its final breath and they find me staring at my laptop screen hitting refresh and quietly sobbing, or until I finally have to press my finger to the app icon and hold it there until I can bring myself to drag the app to the little “x remove” at the top of the home screen on my phone (Android, people, deal with it).

Melodramatic much? Fine. Maybe. But this is Google Reader! How am I going to get all of the many blogs I lovingly read and obsess over to deliver their contents to the same place where I can easily read, file, tag, email, and share articles on my phone or on my laptop?

Google Reader is how I keep up with my long-distance friends’ mommy / daddy blogs. It’s how I make sure I never miss an XKCD comic. It’s how I keep up with what’s going on in the wide world of technology. And it’s where I read about and draw inspiration from the blogs of several authors and one editor I admire.

Yes I know there are a bunch of alternatives, but none seem to give me the same mix of basic functionality (everything you need to have and nothing you don’t), with a clean UI. And of course, how do I know they won’t just up and leave me someday? After all, when I gave all my feeds to Google Reader, I would never have expected (the Spanish Inquisition…) the Googles to just shut it down one day.

I’ve tried paring down the blogs I follow to a bare minimum. I’ve loaded everything that’s left into “The Old Reader.” I’ve tried (when I’m on my laptop… I’m not sure Ye Ol’ Reader has an app, so I haven’t figured out how to use it on my phone…) to break my Google Reader habit by deleting the bookmark and adding one for the Reader in its place. After a few days I dug through the “more” menu on Google trying to find a link to Google Reader and finally resorted to Googling for the link. Then I just left the Google Reader browser tab open. I’m such a cheater.

This whole drama (as exaggerated as I’m making it out to be) is forcing me to think more about two topics that, in my line of work especially, you generally don’t spend much time thinking about… 1) who owns the content I create and curate, and what right do apps have to hand that content over when they decide to close their doors? … and 2) is consuming all this information (drinking from the information highway fire hose…) really that good for me?

Maybe the information-age haters are right and “News is bad for you.” According to them I would be more creative and more productive if I stopped reading “news flashes” (like Twitter) and stuck to reading only things folks today would consider #LongForm or “tl;dr” (Note to Mom: that stands for “too long, didn’t read”). I don’t exactly know if the contents of my Google Reader fall into the long-form category, or if they are more “news flashes” that are just supplying me with a steady stream of information that I wouldn’t really miss if I didn’t know it was there. Maybe losing Google Reader is actually going to be good for me.

I’ll admit it, I am an information junkie. I love to read, and I love to collect information. You never know when that information is going to come in handy, or give you inspiration for a piece of writing. Tools like Twitter and Google Reader allow me to plow through mountains of information in a small amount of time, and flag anything that looks especially promising to read in more depth later, or forward on to someone I know would benefit from (or enjoy) the information.

But like any good junkie, maybe I’m just in denial about my addiction. And, like any good junkie, I’m not going to let the death of Google Reader slow me down.