No Scanning with Google Reader

My test of Google Reader only lasted a day. Serious RSS readers will find fundamental usability problems with the GR approach.

I currently use FeedDemon to monitor 61 RSS feeds. I don’t have the time or desire to read 61 feeds worth of posts every day, so I scan headlines, read the posts I want, and mark the rest as "read" so I don’t have to see them again. FeedDemon makes this "river of news" approach to RSS reading very easy with its surfer style. I don’t need a feed reader, I need a feed scanner. A client that makes me "read" all posts is far too restrictive. And that’s the problem with Google Reader.

Google Reader makes me read every post before it gets marked as "read" and sent to the bit-dumpster. An email client that made you read all your spam before you could delete it would drive you bonkers, but that’s exactly what GR is doing here.

I had hoped that GR would fulfill the promise of fast-feed-access-from-any-networked-computer in the same way Gmail has for email.  But I’ve also known FeedDemon’s author Nick Bradbury for years. You won’t meet a
nicer guy or a better software developer/designer. It felt sorta treasonous to consider a switch away from FeedDemon. Lucky for me I won’t have to deal with any inner-conflict because Google Reader is not an option at this point.

Google Reader might work well for users who are just getting started with RSS but it is far too restrictive for anyone scanning more than a handful of feeds everyday.


4 thoughts on “No Scanning with Google Reader

  1. Well said, I had exactly the same problem with it, and promptly switched back to bloglines. Out of curiousity — do you only read your subscriptions on one machine? I liked the interface for FeedDemon, but I read my feeds at home and at work, so I need a central-server configuration like bloglines.

  2. Stewart – home/work is the same thing for me, and 99% of the time I read feeds on my main dev machine. 1% I use laptop while travelling, and its nice not to have to synchronize files when its time to go. FeedDemon is supposed to synchronize feeds but I couldn’t make it work. Ideally, I could browse with FD at home and use NewsGator Online on the road, but it just didn’t work. Perhaps when FD 1.6 final is out.

  3. I agree completely – it’s really not even 5% of FeedDemon. Quick scanning of feeds is an absolute must – I was hoping they’d come up with a great in-browser app for this, but it seems not yet. Not all that Google touches is gold…

  4. I’d say you’ve hit the nail on the head here. A big problem with many aggregators is that they expect you to read every item one at a time, which may be fine when you start reading a few feeds, but it doesn’t scale at all.

    BTW, can you let me know what synchronization problems you’re seeing? FeedDemon 1.6 is still in beta so there are a few kinks to be worked out, but for the most part the synching should be working.

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