Google Reader, RIP and Maintaining an Information Diet

The Google Reader logo. —Photo courtesy of Google.

Oh how I love Google Reader.  Upon the news of Google Reader’s soon to be death, I immediately started looking for an alternative.  In my effort to maintain sanity and energy in an information saturated world, Google Reader has been the second most used web resource in my life, behind GMail.  In the morning, I check my email and then check Reader.

Yes, yes, some folks think this is the end of RSS; I tend not to believe it.  Since the announcement, other readers have been scrambling to shore up servers after several of them crashed due to the overwhelming traffic of people like me searching for my Google reader alternative.

No one will argue when I say that the internet is a huge time suck and I’d add, energy suck too.  There is so much “stuff ” out there trying to capture our attention that even when we go on looking for one thing, we end up surfing around until we can’t believe how much times has passed.

The awesomeness of using a reader is that you control what you read.  I rarely go off my reader unless I click through to a website linked in the article.  This almost only happens with art blogs.  I click through to see more of a person’s art.  A single artist’s website rarely entices me to click further away from the original article.  The NYT is the only other website I go to daily to read.  Almost all of my internet reading is done on just two sites: Google Reader and NYT.  I have 128 feeds.  8 are just event feeds that are sporadic.  I’d say 30% update less than once a week and only 7 of them update multiple times a day.  I add and delete feeds every month as I tire of certain feeds or hear of something else I want to try.

I also practice what I call inbox 10.  I always edit my inbox to less than 10 (usually it hovers around 5) and I recently went through and unsubscribed to advertising emails I didn’t want or need anymore.

For me this is about being attentive to what I want to spend my energy on.  Anyone who has lost an afternoon to random internet surfing knows what I’m talking about.  I feel like I get to keep up on the topics that interest me: library stuff, technology, art, local happenings without exhausting myself with stuff that doesn’t matter.

I’ve mentioned on here that I don’t have a television.  This is not some highbrow, better than you decision.  This is completely a decision about attention and being mindful about what gets mine.  I was recently in a hotel for 2 nights and without event trying I spent 2.5 hours watching a reality show about folks buying the contents of storage units.  I will never retrieve that 2.5 hours and I would have been better off spending it reading a book or even better: sleeping.

The author of the Information Diet calls it consuming empty calories.  I don’t know how people watch the local news before they go to bed every night.  It doesn’t matter where you live, I’m guessing the first 10 minutes is all the negative news: the deaths, corruption, violence, war, etc.  This effects you.

It might not always seem like it; but, you get to choose what information and how much you consume.  Clay Johnson’s The Information Diet is a great starting place for anyone contemplating a change in the way they deal with information overload.

After spending a month with Feedly and The Old Reader, I have chosen Feedly as my Reader replacement.  I think this is a highly personal taste kind of thing.  I really liked The Old Reader which is actually fashioned after the original version of Google Reader; but, ultimately, the clean aesthetics of Feedly won me over.  Much of my reader is filled with art blogs and Feedly’s easily changed option of the various sizes of viewing really help me decide which entries I actually want to read.  I literally scroll down until something catches my eye, stop and click through.  I was a devoted and loyal Reader fan; but, I gotta tell ya, Feedly is dreamy and I probably never would have given it a chance if it were not for the demise of Reader.

In case you were wondering, two of my favorite art blogs:  Brown Paper Bag  and The Jealous Curator.