Google Reader

Google Reader is dead, long live RSS

July 1, 2013: 11:25 AM ET

Sharing isn't the reason there are several replacements waiting in the wings. Time management is.

For a different take on the demise of Google Reader, click here.

By Heather Muse, editor


FORTUNE -- In some ways, it seems like the death of Google Reader unleashed a hydra -- destroy one RSS reader, and several pop up in its place: namely Feedly, AOL Reader and Digg Reader, among others.

As my colleague Ryan Bradley points out, the social aspect of Google Reader was one its most appealing parts. When Google (GOOG) shuttered the sharing features of Reader and migrated them to Google+, it killed off the community aspect, which appealed to many of its core users. And while I still miss the sharing and social aspect of Google Reader (and will definitely try Potluck), I know that Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and so-called "dark social" platforms like email and chat can scratch that communicative itch. The real reason that the RSS hydra is sprouting is because of time shifting.

For information junkies -- or anyone who has ever had to make a living blogging --  RSS readers are invaluable. Twitter operates as pure flow:  miss an hour, and you're going to miss a lot, and trying to comb through the archives is an exercise in futility. RSS allows for someone to step away, come back and browse. Sure, there are times when users have to declare "RSS bankruptcy" and mark the 1000+ unread items in his or her reader as read without combing through, but for the most part someone can catch up on the day's news, skim headlines and  read at a more leisurely pace.

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Plus, there's the bonus of RSS tending to "never forget" a post. If someone posted something on a blog and later deletes, frequently the deleted piece stays in RSS, another reminder that once something hits the Internet, it's there forever. So I celebrate these companies picking up where Google Reader left off. My replacement of choice is Feedly, because if I'm being honest, I really hate change to "my Internet," and the Feedly "Titles Only" view mimics Google Reader perfectly. It was easy to import my feeds, and the mobile versions are great.

Now I can go about my usual business of skimming tons of information quickly and efficiently while cursing when a site only posts a video without descriptive text underneath. Like I said, I really hate Internet change.

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