Yesterday, I fired up my favorite RSS feed reader to catch up on some web reading…and nothing happened. Gush, my standalone Flash-based feed reader and Jabber chat client wouldn’t log in. That was pretty unusual and had never happened before. So I went to their website and saw a notice that said, “Goodbye”. Dudley and Wes Carr, the creators of Gush, have dismantled their entire 2Entwine website and Jabber server. Gush no longer exists, and that’s pretty sad seeing that it was one heck of a piece of software. Gush looked great, had a slick interface that you could adapt any way you wanted with full typographic controls, was easy to use…it just felt right and I used it almost daily to read the latest posts from my favorite websites.
For those who don’t know what a feed reader does, let me try to explain it in a nutshell. We all like to collect bookmarks of our favorite sites, we become addicted to certain news sites, writers and bloggers, so we visit their pages as often as we can to see if there’s anything new. Well, if you have a huge collection of faves that you want to keep up with, you can spend an enormous amount of time visiting each site manually. A feed reader helps consolidate the process by allowing you to subscribe to each site’s particular syndicated “feed”. (Most readers will self-discover the feed’s address if you enter the site’s URL. All you do is hit the subscribe button and your done.) Every time you log on to your reader, it automatically searches for new items from your subscription list and displays them. You can page through each one and read all the items from one convenient window. If you want, you can click on a headline to take you directly to the originating site. Once you try it, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
With Gush gone, I started Googling for feed readers and found that Google actually offers one. Although, it doesn’t offer as slick an interface as Gush did, it looked OK and was a lot better looking than some of the alternatives I had found. It let me import my old OPML file of feed addresses, which saved me from rebuilding and manually entering my list of 50-60 sites I watch regularly. I’ve only used it for 24 hours, but I like it a lot.