Google Reader is dead. Long live twitter.
Twitter, which has replaced Reader (and R.S.S.) for many people, works on a different principle [than Twitter]. It’s not organized or completist. There are no illusions with Twitter. You can’t pretend, by “marking it read,” that you’ve read it all; you don’t think you’re going to cram “the world of ideas” into your Twitter stream. At the same time, you’re going to be surprised, provoked, informed. It’s a better model.
But Reader had a lot going for it, too. Using Twitter feels, to me, like joining a club; Reader felt like filling up a bookcase. It was a place for organizing your knowledge, and also for stating, and reviewing, your intentions and commitments. It kept a record of the things you meant to read but never did; of the writers you loved but don’t anymore. I won’t miss Reader when it shuts down, on July 1st. But I will miss the old me—the person I described in Google Reader, without knowing it.
Color me a “completist,” but the ability to mark it all read is what I love about RSS and Google Reader. The high likelihood that I’m missing something cool on twitter drives me nuts.
My personal media consumption preferences are somewhat of a balance. I use Google Reader through the Feeddler iPhone app for the stuff I really don’t want to miss. (Nick Carr, Daring Fireball, Seth Godin…)
For everything else, I use another app: Flipboard (shown above). The things I follow on Flipboard are more non-essential, I’ll-feel-OK-if-I-miss-them sorts of things. (Nothing personal guys but stuff like Coudal, Technically Philly, American Scholar, Glenn Greenwald…)
Which I suppose isn’t a setup all that different from what Mr. Rothman achieves with his just-twitter diet (if that is indeed the diet to which he adheres). Half of me just can’t let go of that self-delusional feeling that I’ve read it all.