When I first learned that Google Reader was going away, I was even more upset than when the demise of iGoogle was announced.  After a brief tantrum, I decided it was a good lesson in the importance of not becoming dependent on things over which I have no control.  I know:  We depend on city water, we're tied to the grid for power, and losing the Internet would be almost as crippling as losing the first two.  But a little independence is better than none.

Today I realized that I'm actually grateful for Google's nefarious actions.  Not to justify Google's leading people into addiction then cutting them off cold turkey, but what they did offered me the perfect opportunity to declutter my blog world.  And what a victory that was.

I began by looking at various Reader alternatives.  Because nothing jumped out at me as the obvious course, I decided to see if I could do without any feedreader at all.  The first step was to cull the many feeds that were outdated (some of them with no posts since 2009!), or in which I'd lost interest, or which I find too interesting (i.e. take up too much time, such as the Front Porch Republic, which is filled with frequent, thoughtful, interesting posts that take a long time to read and even longer to respond to).  It took much of the day to do it, but it made me so happy!

Thus I managed to whittle over 100 feeds down to a couple of dozen.  This is how I am dealing with those that remain:

  1. For many I was able to activate an e-mail subscription.  Now that I have my e-mail under control (what a thrill to be able to say that!) I'm not afraid to add this, and I have a filter that files my blog subscription e-mails directly into my "Read" Action folder.
  2. For some I determined that I was receiving the same information, or at least a link to the blog, from Facebook, so as long as I keep up with Facebook, I'll get the important news.  If I want I can even have Facebook e-mail me the posts.
  3. Some are updated at a rate that makes checking them weekly a viable option.  These I have aggregated into a folder on my Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar called "Blogs Weekly."  Once a week I can click on the folder, choose "open all in tabs," and rapidly flip through them to check for new posts.
  4. Others (mostly family blogs) I want to check daily, so I have a similar folder labelled "Blogs Daily."  Each of the Weekly and Daily folders contains less than a dozen tabs, and I plan to keep it that way.
  5. There are only two blogs I can't handle with any of the above methods:  Lime Daley, and Daley Pictures.  These are updated infrequently enough I don't want to check them unless there's news, but when there is news, I want to know quickly.  Fortunately, for both of them I'm likely to hear directly from the people involved if there's something I should know.

For now, I'm keeping my (radically trimmed) Google Reader feeds in parallel with my new system as I try it out.  But I think I'll like it.  It's neat, clean, orderly—and has been reduced to only those feeds that, per FlyLady, are a blessing!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 8:02 am | Edit
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You inspired me to clean out mine, too. I didn't have as much as you, but plenty with very little action as well. I don't have a solution yet though.

Posted by Janet on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

A great post! Thanks. Now if someone would just take away our basement, attic and a couple of walk-in closets, we'd really "clean house."

Posted by Eric on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Why am I unable to "1+" this page on google+?!

Posted by Eric on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Thanks, Eric!

I don't know the answer to your question, but I'll forward it to technical support, aka my Lime Daley son-in-law.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

My first thought when I saw the announcement was "Noooooooo!" followed by "I guess I'd better pare down." I might be able to make your system work if I added a fortnight folder for some blogs...

Also, I have 16 unread items from FPR just waiting for a rainy day. Nice to know someone else besides my brother that reads FPR!

Posted by Monica on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Eric: I am not sure if you are asking:

"Why can't I use the google plus bookmarklet,?" or if you are asking, "Why don't you have a google-plus/facebook/sharethis button on your site?"

The answer to the first is that it should work, and is probably a bug in google if it doesn't, and the second is, that SursumCorda could install a social plugin and have as many share buttons as she likes.

I only have a few friends that use google's social network stuff, so I haven't included it on my own pages.

Posted by Jon Daley on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Thunderbird is always an option, especially if you are still using it for email.

RSS feed aggregation is the sole purpose for which I use Thunderbird and find it to be an excellent substitute for Google Reader (I moved away from Reader back in 2011).

As a client application, there is a chance of missing content if you do not download RSS feeds for a while. For example, assume that a website you follow is configured to publish the ten most recent posts only. In the interim between using Thunderbird, the site publishes fifteen new posts. The next time you refresh your feeds, you will only get the last ten new posts.

I find this limitation to be a minor one, however. I typically launch Thunderbird daily, even if just to download new content but not read it, and most websites have a higher limit set on their RSS feeds (or do not update frequently enough to matter).

Like Firefox, Thunderbird is easily customizable. In my case, I wrote a userChrome.css file to change the interface to being black which lighter text. That is far more comfortable to me for extended reading.

Posted by David July on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I switched to Feedly a while ago when Reader underwent a makeover. I love it. I actually think that it is better than Reader. And now they are working on a clone of the Google Reader API so there should be a seamless transition when Reader shuts down. (though ever the optimist, I expect a few hiccups when it comes to technology)

Posted by Margaret on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

I've heard good and bad things about Feedly, though most people seem to like it. It's good to hear another positive vote.

I did think of using Thunderbird for a while (and Porter is still considering it) before I came up with my more minimalist solution.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

Although I'm still thrilled with the housekeeping I did, I'm reconsidering having dumped a feed reader altogether. Although this solution works fine for finding new posts, I'm missing comments that are posted to sites without a "new comments" section in the sidebar. I haven't done anything about it yet -- just thinking.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 7:56 am

I'm finally trying feedly, and it's driving me nuts. Under "organize" I can't change the order of websites within a category, and I can't see their full titles either so I have several "comments on" or "comments to" listings that I have to click through to see what they are. I keep telling myself everything new takes time to figure out, but it seems to me things are letting less and less intuitive. It's not clear if you click an icon whether something will happen or you'll get a menue of options. Sometimes if you click the title it takes you to the website, other times it opens something within feedly. Grrrr! I don't have time to learn new things, darn it!! I think you did well to stick with what you know!

Posted by Janet on Thursday, June 06, 2013 at 2:30 pm

What I ended up doing was using Thunderbird's "blogs & news feeds" feature, as David July mentioned above. So far I really like it, mostly because it integrates so nicely with my mail. Mostly I delete posts once read, but if there's something I want to save I can easily file it with my e-mails. Also, since I'm checking e-mail anyway, that saves a separate effort to check blogs, which is significant, even with my "slimmer, trimmer" feed collection.

The only negative I've seen so far is that—just like Google Reader—embedded videos don't show up.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, June 06, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Oh, the other disadvantage with Thunderbird is that I can't use it online; that is, I have to have my computer with me and can't check my feeds from someone else's. (At least, if I can, I haven't found out how.) But most of the readers I was looking at had the same problem. Sadly, everyone's effort seems to be going into making things work for phones, which at the moment I don't find to be an advantage.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, June 06, 2013 at 2:46 pm
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