Google Reader Powering Down

Google just announced it’s shutting down Google Reader in three and a half months… I am participating in the friendly Reddit DDoS-hug of all the alternatives (list, but scroll around in the thread for a few more). Darn.

It’s very early to pick an RSS replacement, but I think I’m going for The Old Reader. It’s mainly a process of elimination: I don’t want to pay money or get my own server, Pentadactyl doesn’t seem to like Feedly (extension for the Fox), and I don’t think I want to create any accounts or link anything to Facebook, so there was my choice. Their blog post makes them seem ready for the challenge, although some waiting seems involved.

Well, on the bright side, happy Pi Day! It’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday. TIL.

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Information

There’s a good reason it’s called the information age. Communication has become alarmingly cheap. People get whatever they want published randomly for free. And we love to do this. There are always, always thousands of fresh Reddit links waiting every morning.

In contrast, it’s a little worrying by how much I (and, I’ll bet, a lot of other people in this generation) have lessened in-depth reading. Not everybody is good at producing long reams of text… and not everybody is good at absorbing them either, which is why tl;drs has pretty much become a reflex for anybody on online discussion boards posting more than a paragraph.

But just to focus on me: My intensive book-reading time has been steadily dropping for a long time. Perhaps a few years ago teachers would have this form where you had to read half an hour every day and fill it out, and I would find not doing it difficult. Now most of the time has been replaced by wiki-laddering on the computer. Well, recently my mom dragged me off to the library where I discovered the seventh Demonata book and some other arbitrary books, and I sped through the former last night, but the books like these I really get absorbed in are hard to find. I suck at finding good books in a library. I wish I could pin it on my tastes becoming more discriminative and critical (which is also true, I think), but of course I know most of it just because those Google Reader link-swarms give me more points of thrill with less effort.

I don’t know if, in itself, this is inherently bad. Clearly, it gives the reader the choice of choosing which articles to read deeply into after getting a feel for the general direction of each. To a lesser extent, this has always been how the radio and news stations work. There are many events that everybody should know about at least in passing.

And in certain places, shorter messages seem indisputably the better way. I don’t really see any benefit from writing a hundred words for every vague acquaintance’s birthday (except as an incredibly classy way to procrastinate.) There are always messages on any birthday star’s FB wall, in an amount directly proportional to the number of friends who the star has.

But personally, I would still rather have one devoted, long-ish message of appreciation from a friend than a thousand skin-deep sentences of congratulations from a horde of people most of whom I can just barely recognize. Thousands of one-sentence mentions concerning current events and obscure bits of trivia don’t make much impression and don’t allow much depth of thought. The shape of Pringles are hyperbolic paraboloids—or parabolic hyperboloids or something—very interesting, but hell if it will turn up again in my life while I still remember the fact. It would be entirely useless if the whole world only knew about a new extraterrestrial super-plague in passing. I need more big, scary text walls.

tl;dr: If you just skipped here then you have the same problem as I.

Goals

The time I feel strongly about achieving a goal is pretty much fixed regardless of how huge the goal is. Afterwards I end up procrastinating to not look at the goal I set and how miserably I’m behind progress. Hence, two hours of TVTropes. How many times do I have to repeat this before I do something about it? <insert generic rage sound>

Maybe this has something to do with the way I’m no longer carrying and flipping through my planner around everywhere since school has let out. This should be easy to fix. Or maybe it’s just the fact that Reddit is now an option (and, due to the SOPA & co. clash, much more interesting than usual) all the time, in which case I’m screwed. Look, another reason to fight the bill like crazy.

Lived through: 15×15 Nurikabe breaking three-quarters through construction; stomachache; two spontaneous short lucid dreams in adjacent nights; long and disorienting nature walk on and about the Maokong Gondola; two hours on TVTropes, which I already mentioned; two days of forgetting to charge my iPod.

Accomplished: nothing?