Farewell Google Reader, Hello NewsBlur

There are times when I have the impression that Google is so determined to be social that they lose sight of the fact that their online dominance is a result of being useful. This morning was one of those times when I hopped online to check the headlines and was presented with an announcement that Google Reader is to be retired.

This is not entirely unexpected, Google seems to have been looking for an excuse to kill off their RSS reader for a while. Their reasoning seems to be that ‘social’ means kitten videos, so the community of news junkies that has built up around Reader isn’t ‘social’ and should, therefore, be killed off. With fire, if necessary.

Google have already taken steps in this direction, such as removing social features from Reader and trying to push Reader users into Google Plus, and I would be willing to guess that most users of Reader knew that the application’s days were numbered. Now we have a number: On July 1st 2013 Google Reader will be no more.

This means, of course, that I now have to pull my finger out and find an alternative. I did, briefly, consider going back to Liferea, the desktop RSS reader that I used until a few years ago, but what I really want is an online solution. I use several devices and want to be able to access the same news feed from all of them.

A quick scoot around the web turned up NewsBlur, “a social news reader with intelligence.” It’s an open-source application and the README on GitHub does provide full instructions for installing your own instance. But I’m lazy and went to look at the hosted service instead. They have two sign-up options: Free for people subscribe to fewer than 64 feeds, and $1 per month for real news junkies.

One nice feature on the site is a ‘Try out NewsBlur’ option that lets you play around with the features without committing yourself to anything. It’s a bit slow but, poking around the community feedback pages revealed that this is down to a sudden influx of visitors. Action is being taken and things should improve shortly.

$1 a month isn’t much, so I shall be signing up to NewsBlur as soon as the Import From Google Reader link stops timing out.

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