Google announced earlier this week that it was killing Reader, its RSS feed reader, triggering an avalanche of hateful posts across the Web. You have until July 1, 2013 to find a replacement.
For advisors relying on Google Reader, its death sentence is triggering great anxiety about what to replace it with. But you really don’t need to worry. Plenty of replacements are available and they will be better than Google Reader.
For the uninitiated, Google Reader aggregates news you are care about. It’s a personalized news feed. If you want to track all the news about “investment fiduciaries,” for instance, you would create an Alert in Google and every time a news item is published using the term “investment fiduciaries,” you can receive it via email, RSS feed, or in Google Reader. Google didn’t invent RSS, but Reader popularized its use by making it easy to aggregate your RSS feeds when it introduced Reader in 2006.
In a blog post announcing the death of Reader, Google says its two simple reasons explain its motivation: “usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products,” Google says. “We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.”
Some speculate that the real motive is to push more users toward Google Plus, which has some capabilities similar to Reader. My guess is that Google knows that that feed readers will need to continue to evolve and that small competitors will do a better job. I spent the past couple of days looking for a replacement, which taught me a few things.
First, not all feed readers are the same. I tried out one feed reader that annoyingly deleted feeds of stories if I did not read them after browsing through them, for instance. So you really have to watch out for bells and whistles. In fact, some feed readers are still desktop-based and you should rule those out right away, since any feed reader must be useable on a tablet or phone.
More importantly, I discovered that some feed readers are far better than Google Reader. A new generation of readers scans your tweets, Facebook content, and Google Reader feeds and then aggregates your news. That’s a huge improvement and could save you the trouble of having to configure or import your Google Reader feeds into other apps.
But the other thing I learned was feed readers suffer from the same problem as the rest of the Web. They most all point you to the same news sites. For instance, in aggregating news about Google Reader’s demise, all of the news aggregators pointed me to the same group of replacements for Google Reader, like Feedly or NetVibes.
It’s really difficult to find quality information, where a human being goes to six or 10 feed readers and assesses their capabilities and writes a brief but detailed analysis of each one and makes a suggestion about one or two that are best for different types of users. Point is, news aggregation does not replace reporting and analysis.
We are all being bombarded by ideas from apps that automate information gathering but lack the judgment of experts. It took me hour to read through dozens of posts about Google Reader alternatives to make a suggestion for a replacement to Google Reader.
Moreover, the app that wound up on top is not mentioned in any of the posts that are being aggregated. I had to follow a series of links that I cannot even retrace at this point to come to the conclusion that the coolest app to replace Google Reader is Prismatic.
Keep in mind that Google Reader’s demise is going to trigger a flood of innovation from replacement wannabes, and that my loyalty to Prismatic may not be long lasting. But this seems like a great alternative.
Prismatic could not be simpler. You select Facebook, Google, or Twitter as the social medium on which it will base your personalized news feeds.
Prismatic then asks you go give it permission to access your news stream on your social network.
Finally, it analyzes your likes and interests and aggregates your personal news stream. It’s brilliant.
Correction: An earliker version of this article incorrectly said you have until Julky 31, 2013 to replace Google Reader. You have until July 1.