Keeping up with the News: Google Reader Alternatives
Hello everyone! Staying up-to-date on a variety of topics is an important part of legal aid work. But checking several websites each morning can quickly become time-consuming. Subscriptions and RSS readers are a great solution: basically, they aggregate updates from sites you specify and keep track of what you’ve already read. Google Reader, a longtime standard, is being discontinued on 1 July, but there are several other great options.
Feedly. I use Feedly and it works great. You can start off by importing your Google Reader data, so you don’t have to completely start over and rebuild your content list. From there, just click “+Add Content” to add additional blogs or sites. You can also search for general topics and find blogs you didn’t previously know about. Create categories to organize your blogs, choose how they’re displayed, and bookmark articles for yourself or instantly share to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest if you find something you like. There’s even a set of keyboard shortcuts to help you move through and categorize information faster. It’s a pretty simple interface and is just generally easy-to-use. It’s also available as a smartphone app so you can keep up on the go! Check out this review on Business Insider for more.
The Old Reader. Built to resemble Google Reader before it got rid of its social features, the Old Reader is designed to allow you to comment on and share articles on social networks if you choose to; otherwise, your comments are kept within the Reader itself. Like Feedly, you can import your Google Reader sites when you begin. See this (lengthy) BuzzFeed article for more.
Newsvibe. A very light and minimal reader, Newsvibe is meant to work very simply with no fancy extra features. It’s not as social as The Old Reader, but, like Feedly, you can import your Google Reader sites to get started. See this Lifehacker article for more.
Newsblur. Not to be confused with the above Newsvibe, Newsblur is a little more feature-rich and less minimalist (more maximalist?). Newsblur does have some of Google Reader’s and The Old Reader’s social functionality, as well as being trainable – that is, over time, you’ll see more stories similar to those you’ve marked as good, and less that you’ve marked as bad. It has a free service for following up to 64 sites, as well as a paid version with unlimited sites (as well as a few other expansions). See this review for more.
Reeder. Specifically for Apple products, Reeder is another minimalist-design, Google Reader-importing RSS reader, which is now available for free on Mac and iPad (they’re still charging $2.99 for the iPhone version). A bonus is that you can also download articles to read offline.
Digg Reader. As of this writing, Digg Reader is not actually released yet – it’s set for 26 June. The reader’s development was heavily influenced by user feedback and promises to be simple and light with a “powerful backend infrastructure than can operate well at scale.” See this article on TechCrunch for more.
Google Alerts. Also worth noting here is the simple Google Alerts service. Visit the Alerts page, type a query, and specify what type of results you’d like and how often you’d like them, and a selection (or all) of the content matching your request will be emailed to you. For example, I get aggregated news stories related to Sri Lanka sent to me once a week. I find it useful because Sri Lanka isn’t usually headline news, so I don’t really come across anything in my normal news reading, and a Google Alert fixes the problem easily.
YouTube subscriptions. Finally, I’d like to bring up subscribing to channels on YouTube – basically the “video” version of an RSS reader. Each YouTube user has a “channel,” analogous to a blog, to which you can subscribe so that you see their most recently-uploaded videos (I think you get the analogy, but videos = articles). Just click “My subscriptions” to the left of your YouTube home page to see new items listed chronologically. It’s a great one-stop shop for videos from other legal services organizations, your favorite musicians, talk show hosts, etc.
That’s it for now – happy reading!