Adam Mc

Thoughts on the web.

Google Reader – Part 2: The Love Affair


This is Part 2 of my 3 Part Google Reader story – Read Part 1 – Information Addiction

In 2008, Google Readerhad become my new daily web destination. I had given up on Digg and at that point Twitter wasn’t the firehouse it is today. Reader was how I kept up on the news, web trends, new ideas and content from my favorite websites. If your site posted content relevant to me and had an RSS feed, I was a subscriber. From my perspective, it was a great relationship. Instead of weeding through pages and pages of content I didn’t care about on other sites, I had complete control. I subscribed to sites I cared about and nothing else.But there was something wrong. Something was missing…

I had everything I wanted at my fingertips:

  • Web news – check.
  • Jaw-dropping design posts – uh huh.
  • Funny comics – check.
  • Sci-fi news – Got it.
  • Thought-leading blogs – Yep.
  • Tech stores – Here they are.

So why wasn’t I satisfied? I’m an info addict with the perfect fix and a river of information. Yet I still felt like I was missing out. I felt like there was great content that wasn’t making it to my feed. Google Reader had given me everything I knew I wanted.

The problem was it didn’t give me the content I didn’t know I wanted. I had lost the element of discovery.

Gradually I started to pay attention to a feature called “sharing”. I started by following the shared posts of a few close friends. Within a few weeks my behavior on Reader changed. Using Reader to learn about new things became just as important to me as finding and sharing stories that my friends would love.

That’s when I fell in love with Google Reader. It was my discovery engine. More importantly, it was my social news network. For my group of friends, it had become our own personal Digg. We shared common interests and used Reader to share stories we knew our group would like.

It wasn’t long till I was convincing everyone I knew to join Reader and in the process became an avid supporter of RSS. I got my friends, my co-workers and even my wife to sign up for Reader.

Every pitch started the same way: “Do you use Google? Yeah? Have you used Reader? NO?! Alright – Sign up for this, add the RSS feeds of your favorite websites and then we can easily share stories that we love.”

For those that weren’t convinced, I would send them to my shared items feed so could see how easy it was to curate their own favorite content.

Thanks to that social feature; soon I was getting new content from websites and sources that I had never even thought of before because now the people who know me best were there: my friends. The list of people I followed grew and so did the number of subscriptions to sites.

This love affair has gone on for years. Even as Facebook and Twitter have become social giants, we still used Reader.

My social web life was broken into distinct groups:

  • Twitter – Breaking news, interesting content and shared experiences.
  • Facebook – News and information about my friends’ and family’s lives.
  • Reader – Where I got news and entertainment that was specifically relevant to me.
The power of Reader was that it was a personal news feed.When Google released Buzz in 2010, it was considered a huge failure, but not to me. Buzz had inadvertently done something to the Reader experience that vastly improved it: It increased its visibility. Now my friends’ shared Reader stories were in their own special section in Gmail, which is something I was logged into all day, every day.Instead of just sharing interesting stories with each other, we had a quick and easy way to comment on and like the stories we were sharing. It was a full circle of social experience.Find sources you like, put them into a simple tool that focuses on the content, share content with your friends, discover new content and talk about the content. All it took was the click of a simple share button to start the process.It was everything a social info addict could want. There was no clutter and no mess; just shared relevant content.

Read on to the final chapter – The Anti-Social Update


  1. Pingback: Google Reader - Part 1: Information Addiction - Adam Mc

  2. Pingback: Google Reader - Part 3: The Anti-Social Update - Adam Mc

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