TL;DR — Use something that will help you organise the blog content you want to read. I rant for 1000+ words about why I have to use Feedly, but that’s what I use. It’s not bad. Use it. Byeeeeeee! [Also, this is how Ysharros posts — see section headings below.]
Not very grabby intro
Man, do I really have to post again?! — Oh wait, that’s the opening for day 8. Moving back a bit…
[Squiggly hand-wave, camera blur… POOF!] It’s July 2013, and my beloved Google Reader shut its doors. I started blogging (and really only became aware of blogging as a thing) in 2008, not counting some LiveJournal foofery I’d done for a number of years before then. I guess LiveJournal is a blog, but it never felt like one to me: it was more like my friends and I each had a semi-public journal — you know, sort of what Facebook is like now only FB has way more pictures of food that nobody gives a shit about. (Mea culpa there, but at least mine are mostly home-made — or maybe that’s worse.) Anyway I started this blog with a whole bunch of other people in Casualties of War (a guild, for Warhammer, with bloggers) who also had or were starting blogs and suddenly keeping track of each other via bookmarks just seemed like way too much work.
Long, rambling middle bit
Enter the wonderful RSS feed and the beautiful, magical* RSS feed-reader; in my case and for many others, that piece of amazeballs web magic was Google Reader. (If you don’t know what an RSS feed is or what Google Reader was or why I care so much, read section 1 of this. It’s perfect.) In one fell swoop I could add feeds and see all the new stuff in one handy-dandy list, every day — or every hour if that was my whim — and not miss a single post of a single favourite blogger.
After a year or two of using the Reader I had something like 130 blogs in my feed, which I’ll tell you right now was way too many. I’d ended up having to make categories like “Blogs I follow but don’t actually want to read” (why??) and “Blogs I follow that hardly ever post” and “Blogs I actually care about reading”, which oddly enough didn’t really help in terms of organisation.
My G+ is organised rather the same way. I am not someone who likes being acquainted with eleventy-million people, in fact I very much dislike it (I’m an introvert), and when I inevitably end up that way on social media I have to find a way to keep most of them at arm’s length because I have no tolerance for a low signal to noise ratio (I had to look it up to get the direction right, so you might as well have a link). And let’s face it, social media is 99.9999% noise… or maybe that’s just how I feel about it. So on G+ I now have this circle, that circle, and the “Feeds I give a shit about” circle (yes, that’s really what it’s called) which contains only 36 people and is the only one I actually read. And this is with a total all-circle-people size of only about 150, which is quite enough to overwhelm me.
In any case I don’t quite get G+, which sadly proves that I’m not the cutting-edge know-about-computer-things person I was back in 1990 when ‘Kermit’ was more than just a Muppet. Like, what exactly do these circles do? Do people know what my circles are (God I hope not)? Is it like sub-sets of friends in FB so if I post to the Super-Seekrit circle, only the people I put in there can see it? And what’s the difference between me having someone in a circle I post to and them having me in circles, since unlike FB is doesn’t have to be mutual? Yes, I could look it all up but I don’t want to. I actually grasp computer and web stuff pretty fast since I’ve been working with them all my life (Commodore Vic20 at age 13, yo), so if after several years G+ still doesn’t make sense to me, I’m kinda sure it’s because it doesn’t work in a way that’s intuitive to me. Which is probably why I still don’t really use it.
Basically I’m pretty sure G+ is the indecent and noxious love-child of Facebook and Google Reader, and that’s just wrong. When I want blog posts I’ll use my reader. When I want to keep up with my friends’ kids, dogs, dinners and dislikes, I’ll use FB. /end_tangent
A few years ago I used Facebook primarily to keep up with my much-missed friends from England**, because I totally suck at keeping in touch by email and I suck even more at keeping in touch by phone, plus many of those friends were friends but maybe not good enough friends for regular international calls***, and Facebook does do a good job at giving you a window into the (Facebook-oriented) daily lives of the people you care about, and— breeeathe… And anyway, it was good for that.
It’s still good for that. But — and this deserves caps because I feel very strongly about it — FACEBOOK IS NOT A BLOODY FEED-READER YOU ZUCKERBERGIAN MORONS!!
In 2013, they sent Google Reader away to
be sensible oblivion, because Facebook and Twitter and Instragram. And, I guess, because RSS feeds and RSS readers weren’t in fact the magical flange every. single. person. in the world was using, but rather something only a few people thought worth bothering with. I still can’t quite digest that fact, but I guess I’m not your standard Facebook or Twitter user.
To get at least marginally back to the point, when Google Reader stopped, I did too pretty much. A few companies were scrambling to develop alternatives to the reader but none of them really did such a simple and elegant job of simply presenting to you the new posts from the sites you wanted to see. Nooo, they had to dress it up and make it look like a magazine, or make the posts into post-card looking things that danced around on your screen, or make it look like a book you had to turn the pages on— breeeeathe… I missed my GReader and, as a result, I simply stopped reading blogs. For two years. AND IT’S ALL GOOGLE’S FAULT!!!
[Squiggly hand-wave, camera blur, end of flashback] Now it’s 2015 and Blaugust and I’ve missed way too many blogs and blog posts these last two years. I miss the blogging community — and to some extent I wonder if not feeling part of that community anymore didn’t influence my sudden lassitude with keeping up with my own blog.
Finally, the point
If you’re a blogger and/or Blaugust reader who doesn’t use some kind of content-aggregator and would like to have blogs and new blog posts more easily to hand, consider using a reader. I can’t advise on any but Feedly, which is what I’ve decided to go with (after several false starts with it in the last 2 years). I’m still in the process of remembering/finding the sites I want to read and getting them vaguely organised, which means I have totally got a new Blaugust category set up and totally haven’t actually added anything to it yet. Because being organised is so tiring…
But at least I have a few dozen blogs on there and when I load up the page, POOF!, there’s a lovely, simple list of all the new posts since I last checked in.
HUZZAH! Now I can go back to wasting
30 minutes 2 hours every day reading everyone’s posts about gaming, because not reading them would impoverish my life. It really would. I know this, because I lost my reader and it really did. (But maybe I can cut back to 30 minutes.)
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* See what I did there? I don’t add music videos but I cleverly embed lyrical references instead. I’m cool like that (and too old for YouTube embeds in my posts).
** For those new to this blog, I’m French and German hybrid who grew up in Switzerland (among other places) speaking English, French and German, before attending university in England where I then lived for a decade and a half. In 2001 I moved to the US. Which means I’ve actually been in the US longer than I was in England (by a hair), but I’ll never lose my accent, am not likely to ever feel American (though I do feel New Mexican, especially when I drive badly), use Us in words like colour and armour, use -ise instead of -ize (when auto-correct doesn’t catch it), and generally get homesick for Europe even though I love where I live now.
*** Believe it or not, there was a time before Skype when phonecalls around the world actually cost money…