I’ve always been fascinated with all that there is to read and learn when you’re a connected educator. The problem for me has always been how do I keep track of it. In yesterday’s OLDaily, Stephen Downes shared this article and his thoughts:
That got me thinking of my own journey. It’s been a long journey through a number of different paths.
In the beginning, there was no tool to really bring it all together so I created my own! It was a simple web page written in HTML using a text editor. In it, I had the links to places I wanted to read and a short description. I suppose in some way, it was like what we would consider bookmarks in today’s browser. But, it was mine and I controlled everything. It was nimble enough to be modified in a heartbeat if needed. That was the beginning and then things exploded from there.
Onto the scene came RSS which was a real game changer. One of the features that browsers wanted to be best at was putting RSS just a click away. It was simple enough; you’d just go looking for that cute RSS icon on a web page and subscribe to the feed.
At the time, there were lots of readers available and I tried many of them. As I look back over this blog content, some of them even became blog posts. There always seemed to be something missing, sometimes just cosmetic, so I wrote my own. It wasn’t terribly difficult; RSS feeds are just text files that need to be parsed and then presented.
The problem, as anyone who writes code knows, is that it needs to be maintained. Quite frankly, I kind of lost interest in that project and decided to settle on someone else’s efforts. After a number of tests, I elected to go with Google’s Reader. It was close enough to everything that I thought a reader should be. Then, as everyone who uses RSS and the Google Reader knows, it went away. We were at a big loss!
I tried a bunch of alternatives and never really found something that reached out and grabbed me. Many blogs allowed you to subscribe to their content via email and that seemed handy enough. I still do that today with some blogs.
I’ve always felt that, if something is good enough for you, that it’s worth sharing and so I do maintain a Livebinder of Ontario Educational Bloggers and a public facing Blog Roll of blogs that have made the voicEd Radio show. They’re good for sharing but really don’t do the trick for personal productivity. My daily reader before the dog wakes up takes me into Flipboard which is nice for some predictable and some not-so-predictable resources.
I still wanted a reader that not only would keep a collection but would let me know when something new was there. There’s nothing more frustrating and time consuming to click on a link in someone’s profile and then find out that they haven’t written anything in years.
So, after wandering around all this digital landscape, I landed back with RSS. From that article, this basically sums it up!
There is probably no technology more beaten down, more discarded by “innovators,” and yet more irreplaceable and urgent today than RSS.
And that’s where I stand today. After an exhausting set of evaluations, I ended up with The Old Reader. It may not have all the design and noise and animations that you might expect in other products. But, since the loss of Google Reader, I’m now feeling like I’m back in charge of my reading and that’s worth it to me. I’ve been in control for a long time now and it feels just right.