Google Reader - Blank Slate

The New-Clear Option – Scrapping my Google Reader

Google Reader - Blank SlateI’ve done it, people. I’ve nuked my Google Reader. I just deleted 238 feeds, in less than six clicks.


Because I was tired of the noise.

Blogging often calls for a delicate balance of signal and noise. With more and more diverse bodies broadcasting, I’ve collected a long list of subscriptions over the years; from educational blogs to business feeds, web comics, architectural blogs, and more. Diversity, I’ve always thought, is important. After all, the secret of the universally interesting person is that they are universally interested.

I’m no longer sure this diversity serves me.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been absent from my blog for most of the summer. A lot of things contributed to this – a move, a change in family situation, focus on my work and health over personal interest. But as the lions of summer calm, and I get back to the pace I’m comfortable producing at, I’m finding there’s very little to comment on any longer. Nothing in the feeds, as I’ve been working my way back into them, has inspired me to action. It’s not that everything is being said already – I’m slowly conquering my imposter syndrome – it’s that so many people are speaking so much, and saying so little.

Google Reader used to be my haven, my arc of knowledge. I dedicated fifteen to twenty minutes twice per day – on the commute to and from work – to chewing through every article I possibly could, skimming or starring for later reading between three and four hundred items. I’ve always been a voracious reader; this is what happens when you come from a highly cerebral family.

Unfortunately, with the shift in attitude the year has brought me, I’m now seeing the old list of rags as a hindrance. The noise has killed the signal.

So, where Read It All Week failed me (twice) – because I was working from a subtract-off model – I figure going blank slate on my Google Reader might save the experience. It’s fortuitous happenstance that I’m doing this the same week Google announced they’ve removed the social aspect of Reader. I’m hoping to treat the product the way I treat anything new I engage in; with measured optimism.

I’ve missed reading, and writing, in a significant way. While it may seem unfortunate that coming back to both means stress and adjustment, I can’t help but see this as a sharp opportunity to examine a habit I took as read for so long, and build better practices out of the work.

The questions then become; How are our habits serving us? What are we getting from them? How can we do things better with the tools we have?

What do you think?

  • Chase Adams

     I’m with you Ian. I never used Google reader, but I do use an app called NewsRack, which is a really clean elegant approach to RSS Feeds…but I find it hard to be consistent & jump in.

    That being said, I’ve found that I’m most successful at consistently reading when I only have 2-3 feeds I follow. I add feeds like problogger & seomoz, but there’s really no point, as I end up reading those anyways just through social channels.

    • Ian M Rountree

      Exactly so. I figure – if there’s something good enough to want it available all the time, it’s worth subscribing to. Otherwise, I’ll treat Twitter as my gas station news rack; let the headlines do the talking for the issue, not the magazine as a whole.

      Amazing how the shift in social media is making some people (like us) more cautious about consumption. I don’t see this as fight-back on the idea of always-on-socmed-professionals, rather as a tightening if belts for the media-aware future. It’s a good sign.