Is Google Reader Still an RSS Reader?

I’ve been following the Buzz about Buzz today (click on the link – get it?), and, wanting to try it (since I’m not of the privileged few bloggers given access at launch), I started browsing on my iPhone where I heard it was available.  Immediately I was presented with a list of people following me that I was not following back, so I went in and clicked follow on about 300 or so people that it said I was not following yet.  Big Mistake.

Later in the day I went to check Google Reader, which until today was my RSS Reader of choice, and lo and behold I had over 400 items from just the last hour sitting in my unread items box.  It turns out when you follow someone on Buzz, it also follows them on Reader, and who knows what else on the various Google properties.  Now, the only way to bring my volume of repeat RSS shares from friends down on Google Reader is to go into each and every one, mark hide, and manually move each into their own separate folders.  All this on an already slow Google Reader interface.  I’m not looking forward to that.

I have been critical ever since the Reader team introduced social features into Google Reader.  Now, rather than being a place where I can just go to ensure I’m getting the latest news from the blogs I want to subscribe to, as a traditional RSS Reader should be, I’m now stuck in a world with hundreds to thousands of shared items from friends, many of those repeat items, getting fed to me over and over again, even when I don’t want them!  Add to that all the likes, comments, ability to post “status updates”, and more, it occurred to me today that Google Reader is no longer an RSS Reader – it is now a Social Network!

I wish Google Reader would just stick to what it’s good at – being an RSS Reader.  I now need a place I can go just to get the news I want and don’t want to miss.  Some say those days are gone, but it’s still a need for me.  Today with the introduction of Buzz, Google Reader became useless to me.  If I want to skim the news I can go to Buzz and get all the features of a social network.  I don’t need Google Reader to do that for me.  But when I just want to read the news I want, Google Reader has lost its use for me.  Maybe some of this is the reason Google Reader’s former team lead just switched to the Youtube team?

I’m first to admit RSS is far from dead, though I think it’s time to find another RSS Reader.  Should I just switch to Mail.app?  Where can one go to get the news these days?

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23 thoughts on “Is Google Reader Still an RSS Reader?

  1. I don't like the sound of this..

    I would much rather keep RSS reader separate, it's bad enough that gmail contacts laps over with reader, there seems to be the crazy notion that anyone who emails me gets into my social circle and end up as a reader contact, don't want or need that.

    I hope they can sort this out, but thanks for writing this, at least now I am aware of it before I do have this buzz thingmajig. 🙂

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  2. I'm fine with having the possibility of integrating the people I follow on either Buzz or Reader. But I sure would like to have the option. Making them intrinsically linked degrades the usefulness of either service (for me, at least).

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  3. Hmm. We'll see. I'm alone in thinking Google Reader is the most important and useful social networking tool and I suspect that a bit of fiddling with the options will solve some of your probs?

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  4. Paul, I think with Buzz now bringing in my Friends' Google Reader shares,
    the sharing in Google Reader itself (the reading of each others' shares) is
    now irrelevant. I want the ability to turn off reading others' shares. I
    can use Buzz to read shared items now. I just want an RSS Reader – I
    already have plenty of Social Networks.

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  5. And I was just checking out a bunch of Mac RSS readers for another purpose, but I also use Google Reader and now I guess I'm going to have to switch. If you want to continue using an online one, there is also Netvibes and Bloglines (Netvibes Wasabi is in beta, and is pretty good.) Mac Desktop software: I'd have to saw so far I like NewsFire best, but I haven't played with every single reader. It has smart feeds, which is a nice feature. Vienna is always a favorite for a lot of Mac users, as is Vienna.

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  6. As long as I can still import RSS feeds I'd like to subscribe to and read
    them in full text, I'm okay with that. I need to be able to separate the
    RSS from the social when I choose though.

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  7. Now there are good changes and bad changes. This sounds like the latter to me. I am connected to many people across a range of social media sites. I consider my RSS feeds to be personal to me. You may be a great network ally but that does not mean that I want to look at your RSS feeds. It is a part of the principle of Venn diagrams our interests overlap to some extent, but not all the way.

    I already have my RSS feed as I want it and don't need any more coming through thank goodness I do not use Google Reader.

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  8. You can count me in. I never wanted “Sharing” and “following” in Google Reader. The interface is too clumsy and causes information overload rather than ensuring smooth and enjoyable information consumption. Yesterday I wrote a blog post about moving the RSS reading part from Google reader into a different interface as part of Gmail (on the lines of the “Google Buzz”). The main differentiator is that there will not be a treeview of feeds you are subscribed to at the left, you would instead have a table where there is one row per feed you are subscribed to, and only the latest 3-4 posts will appear in it (with horizontal navigation < and > style to view older items) just like Gmail Web Clips. It will be much easier on the eyes and wont let us drown into some information when therei s other important incoming information. There will also be Archive and Delete links for each feed item. But alas I am just a single person with this new UI idea and I cant get Google to change it single-handedly even though I believe this is the solution to information overload.

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  9. Mohan, you have some good points. I personally prefer they just keep all
    their products separate though. If it makes sense to cross-integrate
    products, then do so, but it doesn't make sense to add a
    never-before-created social feature to something that already worked well as
    is. If they really wanted social involved they should have integrated Orkut
    in some way, where they already had the social connections.

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  10. I have the same complaint! I have a VERY finely tuned list of people that I follow in Google Reader, and each one shares quality content in a specific category. Since I read through an average of about 1000 blog posts a day, there's no room for additional content, which is why I was very annoyed by the fact that after adding people on Google Buzz, I had to go back through and 'hide' every one of them in my Google Reader. At the very least, they should give you a few check boxes when you follow someone that allows you to select what other Google services you want to connect with them on.

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  11. Google Buzz will never be a (good) RSS Reader for the same reasons Facebook isn't one. How many entries can you see before you hit the bottom of the screen? 20-30?
    There is no way to know where you left off, and the stream is dominated by a couple of stories getting shared by lots of people.
    Not to mention you don't have any lists or a way to add a new feed, you have to rely on someone else posting it for you.

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  12. Jesse, in Google Reader you can hide the people you follow.
    It is a little and time-consuming, since you must do it one by one.
    In the left sidebar hover over a name, click on the small arrow right and the first option should be 'Hide x'.
    Now I wish Buzz would implement something like that for people or services, not only for every single buzz…

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  13. Yeah that's right, we have to use Buzz like we use Twitter: “Dip in” when we feel for it and then leave when we want. That way we see what's popular and what's hot. If you need to read “everything” that is published, then use a RSS Reader. I use Twitter lists and Buzz to find the news I want.

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  14. Paul, I think with Buzz now bringing in my Friends' Google Reader shares,
    the sharing in Google Reader itself (the reading of each others' shares) is
    now irrelevant. I want the ability to turn off reading others' shares. I
    can use Buzz to read shared items now. I just want an RSS Reader – I
    already have plenty of Social Networks.

    Like

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