Replacing Google Reader
It’s now been almost a month since Google Reader went away. While I do miss the service and what it provided me, I’m not sure that I entirely miss it. I’ve successfully replaced it with something else, although it’s not a real feed crawler like Feedbin or Feedwrangler.
A few days before Reader officially died, I started to think about what I actually used the service for. Most of the articles in it I skipped, and the ones I actually wanted to read I sent to Pocket and read at my leisure later on. I also found that most of the articles that I wanted to read popped up on Twitter a few hours later. Given that, I wasn’t sure if I actually needed a real feed reader to replace Reader. It seemed that all I needed was Twitter.
The real utility that I got out of Reader was the fact that it would keep track of sites that didn’t update as frequently as a site like The Verge or Daring Fireball. Many of these sites that I followed did publish a twitter feed of articles, but I missed most if not all of them simply because of the volume of tweets that came down every day. With Reader, I would see these new posts appear and would read them. Without it I would miss them.
Since I could use Twitter to replace most of my Reader functionality, all I needed was a service that would notify me if a more obscure site posted something. I looked around, and landed on what I consider to be one of the most useful services on the internet: IFTTT. With IFTTT, I could create a recipe that would check these obscure feeds periodically and automatically add new items to my Pocket list. I did all of my reading in Pocket anyway, so this made the most sense.
Now I use Pocket, IFTTT, and Twitter to do my feed reading. It works really well for me. For some feeds, I set up IFTTT to forward the text of the article to my e-mail address so that I get a real notification when things happen. All together, this solution does exactly what I need it to do.
Maybe someday I’ll decide that I need a full-featured feed reader. That time isn’t right now, though. I’m perfectly happy without it.
Arthur Rosa is an engineering manager based in Sunnyvale, California.