But as most of us know by know, they killed it off, slowly. A lot of RSS readers raised their hand up high, offering themselves up as replacements.
In my opinion, Feedly did the greatest job and in many respects it’s far better than Google Reader was.
But there’s more:
It Was Never Just About Reading
So why do I say, “from a reading perspective”? That calls for a trip down memory lane, from the glory days of Google Reader.
In Sweden, there was quite a few of us in the … let’s call it the digital media curating elite in lack of a better term for us, who enjoyed to not only read feeds, but to make small remarks, comments, on the most interesting items.
This had several positive effects:
- By commenting you make a quick analysis, thus enhancing the value of the shared link.
- Bloggers and curators do what they do not to promote others primarily, but rather to have their own say.
- Adding a comment to certain items makes you remember and have more fun when scanning the web.
But this was not all, because there were one more effect — the most important one.
The Power Of RSS Output
Others could subscribe, in their readers, to my commented items, all because Google Reader back in the day used to allow this to happen.
So if I performed well as a curator, I would soon have a couple of hundred subscribers to my Google Reader comments.
Subsequently, I could subscribe to trusted peers and their Google Reader comments as well. For one single, highly interesting link shared and commented by several curators adding more and more analytical comments and therefore increasing the value of each link. It was beautiful — back when it worked.
For a while there, any person, in these case with an interest in Swedish digital marketing, could do extremely well by using Google Reader only to follow the ten best niche curators.
This made Google Reader outperform any online magazine for people with niche interests.
And it didn’t stop there.
The Forgotten Blinkers
Online influencer Joakim Jardenberg and his friends forked a WordPress plugin which allowed for bloggers (in the habit of making these Google Reader comments) to automatically publish their comments on their blogs.
To the blog visitor, this looked like a common link a typical link round-up, only it was aggregated automatically from a plugin processing that users Google Reader comment RSS feed.
For the initiated, these people became known as “Blinkers” (bloggers + linkers), a phrase I think was coined by online influencer Jennifer Bark.
So if you had created a great piece of content, and you happened to be subscribed by a Blinker, and that person blinked your link, it not only got pushed out to other blinkers, but it also resulted in a healthy and well-earned linkback.
This generated earned traffic and a web of relevant and carefully curated SEO links that gave life to the Swedish digital marketing blogging community.
However, this whole community died as soon as Google Reader removed this function, long before the actual service shut down.
Why Did This Feature Disappear?
Many tried to fix this with different hacks. I tried to post to Tumblr from Google Reader and then let yet another forked plugin get the Tumblr feed to post on my blog. But it didn’t really work very well.
Why Google removed this feature?
For one thing, RSS has always been thought of as too “techy”. And it does create problems, for instance by making it easier to scrape websites for content.
In the long run, it could possibly hurt Google’s ad revenues, because Google Reader never really made an effort to get ads into the service.
But the main reason was probably Google+. They wanted that to be the place where you “subscribed” to online curators.
FlipBoard came close in allowing for you to create your own curated magazine, but it doesn’t allow you to subscribe to a specific magazine’s RSS, so it doesn’t work for the Blinkers.
A Possible Hack For Blinkers
The new Feedly looks great and the versatility is really good, so it has become my reader of choice, replacing Pocket (ReadIt Later, InstaPaper and Reeder).
And it while we’re waiting for them to add this long gone blinking feature, there is a workaround. It’s a bit tricky, but you only have to do it once. It is a bit shaky since it relies on service like Delicious and Feedburner, but it works … for now at least.
- Get Feedly. Add your feeds.
- When you find something you want to share with a comment (like this post?), share the link and your comment to Delicious. (If you want, you can use a designated tag.)
- Get the RSS feed for your Delicious comments. How to create them can be found at their Developer section.
[box style=”2″]Mine is http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/rss/jerrysilfwer where I’ll be sharing comments on the most interesting links I stumble upon when it comes to Digital Marketing. I’d love to see your Delicious feeds in the comment field as well![/box]
- Download and install the forked Worpress plugin Delicious Curator here. Go to settings, make your tweaks and mount your Delicious user name.
- Boom. Welcome, fellow Blinker! Share that love. See apost in action here: Digital Marketing Link Round-Up
An extra shout-out to Jonas Nordström who fixed the WordPress plugin to work with Delicious! You rock, man.