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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Switching My RSS Feeds From Google Reader To...

I spent half of yesterday and all this morning finishing up my testing of different feed reader replacements and officially switching over.

As I have said on this blog many times, the RSS feed is a librarian's best friend.  I need to know what is going on in so many different arenas, a large portion of which are outside my personal areas of interest and/or expertise, but having a computer compile the information for me, all in one place, at all times which I can access from any computer or smart phone makes the job more manageable, makes me better at my job, and allows me to appear smarter than I am.

For years I have used Google Reader to do this, mostly out of laziness.  Since this blog is hosted on Google, I could login once to access multiple services.  Now, I knew Google Reader wasn't the best feed reader out there, but again, ease of use was a huge benefit to me.

But now, with Google discontinuing the Reader in July, I was forced into action.  After some initial research before my vacation (this article was the most useful for me) I had narrowed the search down to 2 services: Feedly and Net Vibes.  In the end I chose Net Vibes, but what works for me may not work for you.  To that end, I will explain what I saw as the positive and negative about each and explain why I made the choice I did.

First, Feedly.  I was initially drawn to Feedly because of its touted seamless integration across platforms.  It seemed that you got the same experience on a computer vs iPhone vs iPad.  This was intriguing to me.  Also, a few other bloggers I follow mentioned how well it was working for them. And, it took only 1 click for it to import my entire Google Reader data.

However, I hit a few snags with Feedly.  First, it is a app, not a cloud program.  So you have to download the app on your phone and add it as an app to your browser.  Here is where I hit the biggest snag.  The phone was no problem. I got the app running and was reading my feeds.  But, I have to say, I did not like the flashy interface (very much like Flipboard) to access my feeds.  When it comes to scanning my feeds, I want it to be simple text that I can move through, mark the ones I need to go back to, and quickly clear out the junk.

But that was just the phone app.  I only access my feeds via the phone once or twice a week.  I mostly am looking through my feeds as I am working on the computer at home or work.  Between the 2 locations I have 4 computers I use almost daily and 2 more I access regularly.  That is 6 computers to load the app onto.  To make matters more difficult, I work at the public library.  Four of those computers are at that library.  I need the IT guy to not only give me permission to install Feedly to my browser, but I need him to do it for me.  We cannot add anything to the computers without him.  I thought of asking him to do it on one, but then I realized I would also need the browser to be regularly updated for it to keep working, and this too is tricky.  Ahhh, too much extra work and hassle

I did try Feedly out at home though.  Again I found it too flashy for my needs so I decided not to pursue the matter until I test drove Net Vibes to have a comparison.

Net Vibes made my final trials because the research I did said that it most closely resembled Google Reader in look (if you took off the default Widget mode (the flashy one) and put it in Reader mode; that took only one click). It is a cloud reader, meaning I can access it from any Internet connection anywhere.  The mobile version is web based, not an app which is fine with me.

I have begun to set up the Net Vibes, but am having some trouble exporting my Google Reader data.  Their directions are not jiving with what information I am getting on Google's screen.  But for now, I was simply playing with its look and setting up my categories: General, RA, Horror, and Teen.  I am also toying with the idea of NOT exporting my Google Reader data.  I figure since I have a few months, I can slowly move things over to Net Vibes and do some spring cleaning of resources while I am at it.

So far I really like the clean, data first look for the reader.  It also have plenty of ways I can catalog and organizes my feeds; a dream come true to a librarian. I have to admit, I went away on vacation very worried about what I would do about Google Reader ending and dreaded having to deal with it on my return, but I think it is all going to be okay.

I hope this post helps some of you who still have to make the switch.  Or, even better, if you aren't already using a feed reader to help you to manage the most information possible, give one of these options a try for yourself.  Back to regular reading based posts tomorrow.

1 comment:

Jenn Calder said...

Thanks so much for this post. I'm a school librarian and my computers are similarly restricted, so I'm happy to know there's an alternative to both Google and Feedly.