Notes on the Death of Google Reader

So everyone’s going apeshit over the impending death of Google Reader. Can we keep a bit of perspective on this please?

– We loved and used RSS before Google Reader, and we’ll continue to love and use RSS long after it’s gone.

– Google Reader is just another RSS client. OK, its community integration features were unique, but as a pure client, there always have been, and will always continue to be, lots of far superior alternatives.

– This has nothing to do with “the death of open standards.” Nothing is happening to the RSS standard, for godssake.

– What do you expect from free software? A lifetime commitment?

I’ll grant that the big problem here is that Reader has become the default backing store for other clients. In fact, my favorite RSS client by far, Reeder, uses Google Reader as a storage and sync mechanism. Hopefully, Reeder will act quickly to enable other aggregators to fill that role, or to let us add feeds independently of a central aggregator. If it doesn’t, I’ll find one that does. Because, after all, that’s what all RSS aggregators did before Reader existed.

It’s not that big of a loss. RSS lives.

Thank God they spared Orkut.

Update: Reeder has already stated that they’ll live on after the death of Reader.

Here are 50+ Reader replacements either working now or on the horizon.

Compassion in Social Media: Facebook and Emotion

Had the opportunity tonight to hear an excellent local talk by:

  • Dacher Keitner: Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and director of the Greater Good Science Center
  • Aturo Bejar:  Engineering Director at Facebook


Keitner and Bejar are working together to make Facebook tools such as removal of unwanted photo tags, bullying indicators, and crisis support more effective by using emotional language in prompts and dialog boxes, fine-tuned by age ranges, gender and other indicators. By using human-ese rather than engineer-ese, their experiments are making various Facebook tools more effective at resolving intended and unintended human conflicts.  Here are a few scattered notes from tonight’s talk. Many of the points below were supported by charts and graphs not shown here.
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Like Button Fail

People joke about the limitations of the Like button, how sometimes you just want to acknowledge that something is interesting or noteworthy, even if that thing is bad news. Sometimes the dilemma is funny, but often it’s not.

Came across this while reading today and did a double-spit-take:


This isn’t funny – this is a problem. Kind of amazing that Facebook hasn’t come up with something better in all this time. In the scope and context of All News, having nothing but “Like” to work with is just childish.

Bucketlist Infographic in Delayed Gratification

So stoked! Delayed Gratification Magazine asked for a month’s worth of data from and used it to create this wonderful infographic. You can even order full-size posters from their site. Thanks so much DG! And thanks everyone who has contributed to over time.

Delayed Gratification – PICKING THE BUCKET
Shareable infographic from a recent issue of Delayed Gratification

Google+: View post on Google+

FreeDive – Searchable Web DBs for Journalists

Problem: Journalists often don’t have access to programmers who can help them build searchable web databases, and are often stuck behind inflexible CMSs.

Solution: +Len De Groot and I built FreeDive, a CMS-independent web-based tool that lets journalists transform Google Spreadsheets into sortable, searchable modules that can be dropped into any web page.

FreeDive was the last big project I worked on at KDMC before moving on – incredibly proud to see its official launch today!

Photo365 2011

On January 1 2011, I made a commitment to take at least one photograph every day of that year. Now, 365 days later, I can proudly say that I’ve actually accomplished a New Year’s resolution for once. And despite my trepidation at the start of the year, it wasn’t a chore at all,  never grew tiresome. In fact, the process became an obsession. As the year progressed, I found my habits changing. Rather than photographs “leaping out at me,” realized I was learning to scan the environment subconsciously, always on the lookout for “that moment.” And I developed a Pavlovian response to that little time window after getting the kid into bed – time to study the day’s images, delete the duds, and upload the pick.

Yeah, there were days when the busy-ness or the same-ness of everyday life made it hard, and yes, some shots are weaker than others. But seldom felt like I had to cop out and just shoot for the sake of the project – there’s always something out there waiting to be found. Other days, had the opposite problem, where selecting just one out of many possibles was the real challenge. Definitely feel like the first 100 images are so are weaker than the later ones – felt my eye improving as the year progressed.

Only regret is that I was using Instragram heavily in the first few months, and Instagram leaves you with low-rez originals (or at least it used to). Over time realized  I was almost always better off shooting with the phone’s native camera app, and filtering/processing later with Analog, FX Studio, or Photoshop if I thought the image needed a little goose.

Check out the Flickr set to see the images with captions, or click the grid below for the slideshow (go full-screen!).

Many thanks to Richard Koci-Hernandez for the inspiration – I wouldn’t have gone for it if not for him and his bottomless inspiration. Enjoyed the process so much that I’m planning to do it again in 2012.

American Censorship Day

On 11/16, Congress holds hearings on the first American Internet censorship system. This bill can pass. If it does the Internet and free speech will never be the same:

“These bills were written by the content industry without any input from the technology industry. And they are trying to fast track them through congress and into law without any negotiation with the technology industry.”

Please sign up and do what you can to help oppose this draconian and pointless bill.