Random Thoughts

The Bright Side of Google Reader Leaving Us

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Photo Credit: jypsygen via Compfight cc

Now don’t get me wrong, the announcement that Google Reader will no longer be after July 1st came as a shocker….but then again…not really.

We know where Google is headed…everything tied to Google+ and Google+ integration across all apps. Which now that I see that and treat the Google ecosystem that way, well, it turns out it is a pretty nice feature.

But what this means is that apps that don’t “fit” into Google+ are probably on the outs (worried about Google Sites as well…who else uses them besides education?).

So instead of getting all freaked out and sad or nervous, which is the tone of most the e-mails I have received……let’s get excited!

First off Google Reader was not the first RSS Reader. I personally wouldn’t even put it into the “Early Adopter” era of RSS Readers. I had 4 others before I moved to Google Reader. But it is safe to say that Google Reader pretty much became the main RSS Reader of most people. Not because of its ease of use, but rather because it has an open API which allows sites like Feed.ly and Flipboard to connect to it.

Secondly there has been very little innovation in the RSS Reader area for some time. By Google now dumping Reader, it has left a big hole in the middle of the tech world and that is where the excitement comes in. For the first time in a long time, we’re going to see some innovation in the RSS Reader area. There are engineers, companies, and programs I’m sure that are already working on some new solutions for us all. We have until July 1st, so let’s not panic and see what these innovative people come up with. It is going to mean some playing around of new systems but who doesn’t like to geek out a little now and then?

Here are a couple of the things I will be looking for in my next Reader:

  • Web-based with offline support: Much like Google Docs now works and syncs seamlessly online and offline via the Chrome browser, I want this in my next Reader
  • Ability to have one beautiful reading experience on all my devices (iOS and Android). Really enjoying the experience of the Google+ app on all the devices….seems so sleek and fluid
  • Ability to comment right from app: Not sure if this can be done but would love if I could read a blog post and comment right from the app. Even if this functionality was only for the major blogging platforms (WordPress and Blogger) that would be a start and a HUGE benefit to everyone. Don’t even know if this is possible but it would be powerful for sure.
  • Ability to share with social-networks
  • Exit strategy: Have to be able to import/export OPML files like other readers.

What functions would your dream RSS Reader have? It’s time to dream and be innovative.

If you are building a new RSS Reader and are looking for beta testers…..shoot me an e-mail and I’d be happy to be a tester and give feedback. Actually if you need it, I have hundreds of educators you can beta test on over at COETAIL.

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Hey Jeff,
    On my wish list: highlighting and tagging for future reference. Maybe just full Diigo integration?

    Ps. LOVE what you are doing with COETAIL. I’m seeing some really great leaps and bounds in teacher learning in your cohorts. Congrats to you all!

    • David – that has been my thought as well. So much of what I do feeds into Diigo, I’d like to have that integrated into the reader, instead of round-tripping out to a browser, then back to my reader.

    • Linda Dimitrov Reply

      Agree wholeheartedly with highlighting, tagging and Diigo integration. I’d also like feeds organized alphabetically automatically or by content areas by drag and drop . I love the fact that I can archive twitter feeds (like conference hashtag content) in Google Reader – no need to go to another application – would appreciate that in a new reader.

  2. Sorry to see Google Reader but even more sorry if Google Sites goes. I guess I should prepare for that day, but for now, I am still using Google Sites, and will just need to be more vigilant about external backup and an exit strategy. I also wonder why Google is killing these tools just when it is trying to break into schools with Chrome Books and Google Apps in general. It was a breeze the way Google Reader integrated with the Google Apps, and the same is true for Google Sites. If Google is serious about breaking ground in the education field, which it is, the company has to realize that teachers rely on tools like Blogger and Google Sites. If these go away, teachers have to wonder why bother with Google Apps; they might as well go hunting for other alternatives and don’t need to become Google Apps schools. Also, why bother becoming a Google Certified Teacher? Just when Google is making some headway with Chrome books, and the competition against iPads is stiff, the demise of any more Google Apps might cut down on schools wanting to embrace the Google suite overall.

  3. Interesting take on how other organisations will now have the opportunity to push the boundaries of RSS feeders now that they will see people migrating from google reader to other sources

    One thing I did love about google reader was how it automatically marked items as ‘read’ if you scrolled past them. This was great and others I have tried do not do this for me.

  4. In a Google Reader replacement, I’m looking for something simple, a service that sits in the background and provides a solid foundation for a variety of applications. I rarely visited the Reader site other than to show people how to register, and instead used tools that were tied to it.

    The real value of Reader came from the innovative interfaces and interesting features created by developers using the API. I agree with everything on your list but a single website replacement won’t provide all the functionality that will satisfy everyone. That will come from creative people who are allowed to build on it.

  5. Craig D. Rice Reply


    The announcement of Google Reader caught me off guard as well. I have long evangelized Google Reader, but it’s been a tough sell. Perhaps the popularization of apps like FlipBoard, Pulse, and Currents will change that.

    At any rate, I have been very satisfied with feedly. feedly is aimed in the right direction and already has a solid, customizable, open platform in place — as well as accompanying apps. A big win over Google Reader is the ability to chose your consumption style — tabloid if you want it or titles for the heavy blog consumer.

    I also wonder what’s next on the Google chopping block. At least Google considers Google Sites one of its core services (along with Gmail, Drive, Contacts, Calendar, Groups, and Talk). But it sure does make one reluctant to jump on new Google services like Keep as I would otherwise be inclined to do.

    Sites does have some solid uses cases outside of .edu. In particular, I have had great success using Sites with non-profits to empower members to update web content themselves without relying on “the webmaster”. It’s also a great tool for managing and sharing meeting minutes and committee material. I had doubts about this myself until I looked through some Google Sites “Board” templates and example sites. Once the initial structure is configured, it is much simpler, though admittedly less powerful, than a CMS like WordPress.

    Right now I am trying to work through which solution is better: Google Sites and its File Cabinet template — or Google Sites with the Google Drive Gadget (which integrates Google Drive right into Google Sites). Personally, I prefer the latter, since the (sadly very unreliable) Google Drive client app allows me to manipulate files in the filesystem ala Dropbox. But the former is much simpler for the general user.

    Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog, Jeff. Keep the interesting thoughts flowing…

  6. What I need is the BUNDLES function. It is essential for managing my 800+ student blogs; I can do the busy work to subscribe to class sets of blogs, put them in folders and centralize the link for teachers to download the folder. But without bundles, I have to get 64 HR teachers to navigate to each kids’ profile page in our LMS, navigate to their blog page, then one-by-one, subscribe to the student blogs and then put them in a folder.

    If you, or anyone else, has any better ideas on how to do this, I’m all ears. Check out my blog (thedigitalbridge.blogspot.com) to see my communications with the folks at Feedly.

  7. I agree with Myron that the bundles feature of Google Reader was hugely important and needed. I’ve transitioned to Feedly and am mostly pleased with it, but I hope they add more enhancements. Kudos to you, Myron, for your conversations with the Feedly CEO. Woo hoo, Twitter connections and social media!

    • Hi Wes and Myron,

      I agree that bundles are hugely important, particularly for teachers looking to manage a large number of student blogs in a time-efficient way.

      I’ve taken bundles a step further (I think) and had friend of mine write a bit of code that automatically generates an OPML file from a CSV. Instead of subscribing to the whole blog, teachers can subscribe to a specific category so they get only the posts they want/need.

      Google Reader has been great for managing all the posts but as long as a new service allows for the importation of OPML, I’m hoping we’ll be okay.

  8. Pingback: Moving at the Speed of Creativity | What Support for Interactive Writing (Blogging) at High School Should Look Like

  9. “Kudos to you, Myron, for your conversations with the Feedly CEO. Woo hoo, Twitter connections and social media!”

    I know…pretty cool, right? 🙂

  10. Yes, Google Reader has/had become the defacto RSS. Feedly is good, the look is clean, but my wish list includes the bundles that Google Reader offers, especially useful in education. I, too, would appreciate more enhancements on Feedly, and not having to click “Mark as read” for a post to be considered “read.” And I agree the ability to share and comment right from the app would be helpful. Diigo integration would be interesting!

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