Goodbye Google Reader

It’s a sad day for the blogging community; Google Reader has shut down.

As someone who follows way too many blogs, an RSS reader is essential for me. I’ve switched to Feedly, which is great, but as a Google Reader user since 2007, I’m more than a little sad to see it go.

However, as part of the switch to Feedly, I’ve dug through and purged most of the posts I’d starred and tagged in Reader, keeping only a few that have left a lasting impression on my life. Since you might enjoy these as well, here are seven of my favourite blog posts from the past five years:

1. The Office According to The Office

This is an excellent study of the modern corporation, explained entirely by referencing characters and situations from the first few seasons of the TV show, The Office. If business was always taught this well, we’d all have MBAs.

2. How to Give a Kick-Ass Presentation with a Hangover

This was written by a veteran conference organizer, and it’s a list of 60 or so tips for speaking at conferences. I’ve read it before every important talk I’ve ever given (including my talks at SenchaCon and OSCON), and it’s helped me enormously each time.

3. Halfway

I’ve mentioned this post before. The irony of posting it on July 1st — again — is not lost on me.

4. Why Aren’t you Really Good at Graphic Design?

A reminder that the internet changed everything, and all skills are learnable.

5. Overnight Success

Don’t worry about the post, just watch the minute-long video. It’s probably the most motivating video I’ve ever seen, and I watch it anytime I feel like I’m half-assing some part of my work, to remind myself that sometimes you have to stop playing video games for a while if you really want to build something great.

6. On Craft

This is a post about changing jobs. The bit about craftsmanship in the first few paragraphs is exquisitely written, and I take from it whenever I need to explain software development to anyone.

7. Me, but you, but me

Beautiful writing from the legendary Mark Pilgrim. Proof that you can be both a fantastic programmer and a fantastic writer.

I hope this makes up for publishing so few of my own posts over the past year and a half. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to a weekly scheduled, but I’ll do better going forward than I have recently. Many of the posts above weren’t written by professional bloggers, and the thought that I could someday write something that would reach someone the way these posts reached me… well, it’s something I’d like to start working towards, again.

Web Misc Web Technology

The Content-Sharing Problem

The rise of ubiquitous social networks has lead to a choice I often have to make: When I find something cool online, where do I share that content?

In the pre-MySpace days, when social networks weren’t really a “thing”, the decision was easy because there were only a small handful of choices: you instant messaged or emailed it to a few close friends, or if you were “that guy”, you forwarded it to everyone you knew. Fast-forward to today. If I find a cool link, I have all kinds of options:

  • Tweet it.
  • Share it in Google Reader.
  • Share it on Facebook.
  • Link to it on Yammer.
  • Post it on LinkedIn.
  • Send someone a private message through any of the above services.
  • Blog about it.
  • etc.

Which do I choose? If I only post the link in one place, I’m only reaching a subset of my total audience. But if I post the link in several places, I’m guaranteed to spam a few users multiple times. This dilemma is what I call the content-sharing problem.

My solution so far kind of sucks.

What I do right now is painstakingly case-by-case. If it’s particularly techie, it goes to one of the more techie networks: generally for something short and easy to digest, that’s Twitter, and for something longer, Google Reader. The idea here is that I want to match the content I’m sharing with other pieces in my friends’ feeds that are about the same length.

If it’s not techie at all, I’ll usually involve Facebook. Facebook is the venue that has the least overlap with any other network, and since I can post it on a specific friend’s wall, I can target that audience even more deftly. Since there’s unlikely to be much overlap, I’ll often share this again on Twitter or Google Reader, especially since they’re public and more persistent.

If it’s something work-oriented, that’s where LinkedIn and Yammer become more attractive. Unfortunately, these areas tend to have a huge divide in that many of my Twitter/Google Reader followers are also connections on LinkedIn/Yammer, and many are not. This is the most problematic situation, because I either don’t reach several people I care about or show a similar subset of people the same link twice.

I could go on, but you get the idea — it’s a mess. It’s case-by-case, and it’s probably NP-complete. It’s killing me.

Is there a better way?

So far, I can’t think of one. Even convincing everyone I know to follow me on one monolithic feed isn’t ideal, because with so many diverse people in one venue, my signal-to-noise would be different and probably pretty weak for each individual contact.

I’m grasping at straws here. Is there a technological solution to this that I could be using? Are there content-sharing etiquette rules that I should be aware of? Am I simply trying to be in too many places at once?

What do you do? I’m dying to know.