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My Google Reader Substitute

Its hard to believe that Google Reader has only been “dead” for a few weeks. I use the quotes because while the core RSS reader functionality is still going, the reason it was all-consuming for me (and, frankly, one of the biggest sources of my goodwill towards Google) – the social functionality – is dead and gone.

I tried using Google+ as a means of sharing for two weeks – I really did. But it didn’t stick. First, the sharing from within Google Reader was clunky at best – I had to hit the “+1” or the new “G+ share” button, then select the Reader circle I had made, and then do another click to share – awkward process. Secondly, Google+ just didn’t cut it with what I used Google Reader’s social functionality for. I use Google Reader to read. Google+ is great for sharing snippets and pictures and thoughts – but its not a reading platform, so treating it like a replacement for Google Reader’s sharing functionality was never going to make it. Lastly, the point I brought up from my previous post on different levels of interest on different types of content still rings true – the people who I shared with on Google Reader were opting in to my content shares – most of my friends on Google+ are opting in to my personal shares. The two aren’t always the same.

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So, ultimately, I threw in the towel and decided to use Tumblr as an alternative. As you may know, Tumblr is a popular and fairly versatile mini-blogging tool – it lies somewhere between Twitter (where you are limited to 140 characters) and WordPress in terms of simplicity. But, it packs a ton of cool features to make it, from what I can tell, an okay substitute for Google Reader’s sharing functionality:

  • a full-length RSS feed so that folks can subscribe to my “shares” from a reading platform like Google Reader
  • packs a lot of compelling sharing features (liking, “re-blogging”)
  • a browser bookmarklet pretty similar to what Google Reader had (so I can share things as I go)
  • support for custom domain (so my Tumblr is now officially http://tumblr.benjamintseng.com/)
  • support for Disqus (so it can do comments)
  • pretty versatile HTML/CSS templating system so I can do further customizations later

Its not perfect. Its not integrated into Google Reader anymore – so all sharing/interaction will need to be done using the bookmarklet or on the site directly. But, the full-length RSS feed means we can keep reading and the sharing/Disqus functionality means we still can like, re-share, and comment.

I’m hoping my friends who once used Google Reader will join me on Tumblr, and I’m hoping my friends who were using Tumblr all along will welcome me to their world :-). I just started with the integration, but I am hoping to play around with the templating system to more tightly integrate the two sites in the near future.

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