This past week, Google announced that it would close Google Reader on July 1st. Nonprofit technology colleague Nancy Schwartz shared that link and it prompted a lot of angst for many who had grown dependent on this free software. More than 125,000 people signed this online petition at Change.Org and lists of alternatives to Google Reader started popping up like this one from Lifehacker and list.ly. In online discussions with nonprofit techies, Megan Keane pointed to the loss of an anti-censorship tool in places like Iran, and Nancy Schwartz noted in an online discussion, “this is a kick to independent content publishing, not just convenience on the readers side. It’s more corporate content control, but that’s what we get from relying on free (but privately held) tools.”
This isn’t the first time the nonprofit community has been screwed by using free tools own by corporations. Remember what happened when Yahoo announced it was shutting down delicious in 2010? After that experience – where I was very dependent on a free tool, I decided that in my training work and blogging that I would try to avoid dependence on a free tools and focus on the actual practice. That’s why when I teach people about RSS Readers, I focused on the practice and offered them a variety tool options – see above slide from a recent workshop.
I’ve been using Feedly since 2008, when Kevin Gamble from the Extension community mentioned it during an online workshop that I facilitated. For those who want to make the connection between Google Reader work flow and Feedly, there’s some good tips on the Feedly blog. However, I’m not dependent on feedly because as I started to do focus more on content curation, I’ve migrated to the a combination of curation and news discovery tools. So, I was spared the stress of a “Who Moved My Cheese!” moment.
Geoff Livingston had a great suggestion of using the Google Reader closing for a moment of self-reflection and to pivot and purge what you’re reading. I tend to do this one or two times a year. Like Geoff,s I often get tired of reading the same people and ideas over and over again – and like to discover new topics and thinking. Some new topics that are beckoning for me are:
- Effective teaching and learning techniques that can be used for designing and delivering training. I’ve flirted with this, but have not written about it regularly – so expect more of that from me.
- Visualization techniques – from note-taking to creative idea generation. I’m doing a session on that with Rob Cottingham and Jana Byington-Smith at NTC, so expect more that topic as well.
- Learning from Failure – I’ve been following this more deeply for a year or so, but plan to look at the practical translation
- Creativity and Innovation Mindsets — what are some of the ways that nonprofits are being more innovative and nurturing that mindset
- How to be a data nerd – I’m interested in how those of us who are not natural born data nerds can move in this direction effectively or at least partner with data nerds.
If you’re looking for a new RSS, are you also considering a moment of self-reflection about what topics you are consuming and an opportunity to seek out some new ideas or different topics? If so what are they?