In my line of work, I try to digest a lot of news—both to stay up to date on what’s happening in my local and global neighborhoods as well as to be able to offer informed commentary. One of my favorite tools had been Google Reader. It was an excellent way to skim a huge volume of headlines, pick out the few I wanted to read, and then share, star, tweet, or facebook articles as appropriate. I typically used the stars to mark articles that might make good blog fodder later, and shared articles so they’d appear in the news feed on this blog and so I could offer friends the ability to follow the stories I’m reading. It also made a nice archive of articles I’d read in case I needed to hunt one down for a fact-check.
Then Google re-launched Reader with a “cleaner” design and made it to work more exclusively with Google+. I don’t use Google+ and don’t know anyone who does. If I want to share something compelling, I use Facebook selectively for the articles I think are most accessible to a wide audience, then Twitter for articles I care enough to comment on for folks who care enough to follow me, then Google’s erstwhile “share” function to create an RSS fire hose of everything I’m reading. So Google effectively turned off that fire hose by removing the “share” button. Searching for alternatives was frustrating, as they turned up the same few options that didn’t replicate this function. Mostly I was relying on mobile apps like Feedler on our iPad and gReader on my Android. These both work great, and already offered a UI superior to Google Reader. Both piggy-back onto your Google Reader subscriptions and account with no export files needed. Even better, these still (fingers crossed) have the good ol’ “share” function and my RSS feed of shared items still works even after Google removed those buttons from their reader!
But I still wanted to be able to browse and share news on my laptop. It would have been great if either Feedler or gReader had a web-based version. Finally, I came across Feedly, an add-on available for Firefox and Chrome. I’m currently using the Firefox version. The UI isn’t quite as elegant as the apps or the original Google Reader, but it does the job. Click on an article, click on the eyeball icon to “preview this article,” and then you’ll see that “share” button in the upper right menu. I guess I’ll be using Feedly until Google Reader either reinstates the “share” button on their own reader or breaks the back-end function that lets these third-party apps continue to populate the feed. Feedly also has mobile apps, which I haven’t tried yet since I’m very happy with the others.
I’ve been seeing various articles about something called HiveMined being created as a direct response to the Google Reader changes, but it’s still in development. I’ll give it a look once it launches, but for now, Feedly’s doing the job Google Reader doesn’t want.