Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st, 2013

Planning on updating this post as new GReader options start to appear and I get to play with each of them according.

This is not a drill.
(last updated 20:10, March 14th).

Goodbye GReader

AGAIN: Google is closing down Google Reader on July 1st.

Take a moment to process that… then read on.

Marketing Land, where I first read the news (before The Verge got it up, before Techcrunch nailed it too), is building up a list of replacements (all of which I am yet to try). So far they have:

Other notables are

Edit 1: LifeHacker has a good transfer guide too. 

Edit 2: Feedly is swiftly becoming the new Reader of choice. Here’s why:

‘Google announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting for some time: We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless.’

Thanks to GigaOm and JMac (comments) for the tip.

Edit 3: RussB’s Magnet.io is now open for sign ups

Outside of those, go follow Russell Beattie. He’s been working on a Google Reader replacement for a while – aka Magnet.io – and if we all go give him our support, it might just make it out before Google hit the shutdown button.

Edit 4: Former Google Reader Product Manager, Brian Shih, explains what he thinks what happened over on Quora

I’m just sad. So sad. Google Reader is where I get my news. It’s where I find my random. It’s what drove my Five things on Friday last year, and it’s what drives my weekend link blasts over Twitter.

It sounds dramatic but, I genuinely am distraught. Anyone who knows my blogging habits knows that I am a news hound. I search for the new, the unknown, the esoteric.. and I share it. Google Reader has been my weapon of choice for as long as I can remember and now, quite literally, its days are numbered.

No good can come of this.

 — – — 

Right now, I don’t know which service to switch to. To be perfectly honest a lot of it will depend on whether a) the next platform can take the weird-ass download file Google gave me, and b) if Reeder App will support it too.

Google Reader was great. Then it was good. Soon it will be gone. 

For now, we mourn. 

 

 

Commonplace Books

A couple of weeks ago, when out for a few beers with some friends, my mate Kai and I got into a discussion about how we use our respective RSS Readers.

Teleportation just ain't what it used to be

— this is the only picture of Kai that is ever worth using, ever –

The crux of the conversation came down to one thing: folders – Kai uses them, I don’t. Kai’s point was that he likes to choose what format to consume and when. For example, he may opt to read long-form content in the morning, and prefer visual / illustrative stimulation in the afternoon. A point that I both understand and recognise.

However, I prefer reading everything at random. It’s a habit I’ve kept for a long time but it’s something that’s recently been re-enforced by learning about the origins of the commonplace book, and its place in both history and the creation of serendipitous innovation.

What do I mean? Well…

In the book Where Good Ideas Come From, Stephen Johnson writes:

“Darwin’s notebooks lie at the tail end of a long and fruitful tradition that peaked in Enlightenment-era Europe, particularly in England: the practice of maintaining a “commonplace” book. Scholars, amateur scientists, aspiring men of letters—just about anyone with intellectual ambition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was likely to keep a commonplace book.

The great minds of the period—Milton, Bacon, Locke—were zealous believers in the memory-enhancing powers of the commonplace book. In its most customary form, “commonplacing,” as it was called, involved transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one’s reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations.

There is a distinct self-help quality to the early descriptions of commonplacing’s virtues: maintaining the books enabled one to ‘lay up’ a fund of knowledge, from which we may at all times select what is useful in the several pursuits of life.

Each rereading of the commonplace book becomes a new kind of revelation. You see the evolutionary paths of all your past hunches: the ones that turned out to be red herrings; the ones that turned out to be too obvious to write; even the ones that turned into entire books. But each encounter holds the promise that some long-forgotten hunch will connect in a new way with some emerging obsession.”

———-

That, believe it or not, is what historians mark as one of the ways Darwin was able to come to his theory of evolution (he famously had no ‘EUREKA!’ moment, it came to him slowly – over months) and that, believe it or not, is exactly how I feel about my RSS.

It’s a big jump – from understanding nature’s beginnings to reading internet ponderings mixed in pictures of lolcats – but that’s how I see it.

Basically, you should use RSS. And if you don’t, why not try starting a commonplace book? I had one in school, and it was awesome. In fact, I think I still have it somewhere…

—–

Commonplace book links of note

The Commonplace Book – Brett Bolkowy

The Ecology of Thought – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Good Ideas and Notebooks – EVSC

 

Learn

My first iPad wasn’t in fact mine. I merely had it on loan from the office. We danced and we played together but eventually, I had to hand it back. However, a couple of weeks ago (and thanks to some smart upselling from Vodafone), I picked up my own one.

This time an iPad2. Glorious.

This is the first time I’ve had an iPad ‘full time’ so to speak, and being a part-time student and observer of how technology influences human behavioural change, I’ve been keeping an eye on its influence on me.

The results so far? I’m reading more.

Allow me to explain: last year, I wrote about how the iPad did not mean the death toll for the publishing industry – and I stand by that. But, recently, I happened to come by an issue of The Economist’s lifestyle and culture quarterly, Intelligent Life (IL). It was my first encounter with said publication and, hidden deep within its pages, it featured a rather fantastic article entitled ‘Digital Africa‘. A super-relevant piece of writing and a subject that is dear to my heart. With that article alone, the magazine had found itself a new subscriber.

Later (and I don’t know how I discovered it, one assumes there must’ve been an ad somewhere inside), I soon learnt that IL had its own free iPad app. Even better. I thought, I know a lot of people with iPads and I know a lot of people that would enjoy that Digital Africa article. So… I’ll tell everyone who fits both those descriptions and that’ll be great.

I do, and it is.

Weeks later, my iPad2 arrives and the first app I download? IL. On top of the Digtial Africa copy, there’s a new issue available. I download that and read it, cover to cover, over the course of an afternoon.

‘Interesting’ being the key word here.

Confession time: I don’t read (in the traditional sense) as much as I’d like. It’s not a healthy admission to make, but it’s true. The, what might be seen as, usual time for reading – on the tube to and from work in the mornings and evenings – is usually taken up by writing. My Moleskine is my best friend when I’m travelling and I use the dead [read: ‘disconnected’] time to jot down my thoughts. Failing that, if my mind is bare, I catch up on email or just sit and listen to music. My daily reading habits tend to be made up of my Google Reader and that’s it.

However, upon finishing my second i-issue of IL, I then figured I’d give the Kindle a go. My sister and I bought one for our Mum recently and a few other friends have also extolled its virtues. I’ll get the app I say, that’ll do it.

I did, and it did.

The Kindle app is sitting quite nicely on my iPad as I type with ‘The Psychopath Test‘ by Jon Ronson (thank you Amanda) and ‘The Black Swan‘ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (thank you Jed) both sat ready to be read.

We’ll see how this goes, shall we? New technology, encouraging me to read. This I’m going to enjoy.

Before I close off though, there’s one last thing I want to share. Back in January 2010, mobile thought leader and visionary, Christian Lindholm, wrote these words about the iPad.

It may seem like a small change, but a generation which has instant access, quite literally, at its fingertips, will be a quite different generation to that which did not. We used to consider that someone was erudite if they had spent a number of years accumulating knowledge and expertise which they could deploy at the precise moment which it was required.
.
Given that this information is all now on hand, people will come to rely more on an ability to recall data from the system. Ability to focus, and knowledge of the best places to look, will become the most important facets to consider. These are fundamental changes.

It’s still one of my favourite blog posts to date and I think that, in this age of the information rich, the sentiment stands true:

Irrespective of your thoughts on what the iPad is for, these shifts in the way we store, recall and interact with knowledge signify a human behavioural change that we – in our lifetimes – will probably never be able to truly quantify.

Learn.