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16 very good reasons to get a shiny new feed reader

At the turn of the century when the internet first began to blow up, a wonderful technology emerged called Rich Site Summary, now more commonly known as Really Simple Syndication or RSS. Today pretty much every news website and blog in existence uses it to tell the internet when a new post is online.

Today Google pulls the plug on Google Reader, by far the largest RSS reader and the backbone to many software infrastructures (if you haven’t heard the news yet and you dash you might still be able to export your feeds before Google Reader gets shutdown tonight). But RSS is not dead, it is experiencing a rebirth with dozens of promising new reading platforms, bursting with new features, racing to fill the void. Personally I’d recommend Feedlyif you want a blissful reading experience on your phone or tablet or the Old Reader if you do your reading at your desk. If you’d like to blur RSS and social networks, Flipboardwill trawl your RSS feeds as well as all the links posted by your social network contacts without you having to read a single status update. Lifehackerhave a good rundown of some of the other alternatives. If you really know what you’re doing you can install Tiny Tiny RSS on your own server and truly take control of your data.

Update: A crowd-sourced Google (ironically) spreadsheet has sprung up, listing over thirty Google Reader alternatives and their respective attributes.

If you are new to the RSS game, now is a better time than ever to take the plunge and escape the filter bubble assigned to you by Google and social network algorithms. If you are one of the many who now get their news from Facebook, you’d be well advised to make the jump, Facebook now throttles traffic from the publishers you “like” unless they pay to promote content, a move described as “the biggest bait and switch in history”. So you’re welcome to like my page on Facebook but you’ll only ever see a fraction of what I post, because I don’t pay Facebook, unlike McDonald’s or Starbucks for example. Twitter is a great way to follow writers and bloggers, but much gets lost in the “firehose” of twitterings. If you’d like to get 100% of content from any provider, RSS feeds are your best bet, hands down.

Below are some outstanding blogs to get your feed off to a roaring start:

Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science – The blog that needs no introduction.

Neuroskeptic – Expert demolitions of neurononsense. Neuroskeptic was blogging anonymously before it was cool.

DC Science – An awesome skeptical science blog from the legend David Colquhoun.

The Mental Elf – A constant stream of mental health (get it) news, told from a critical perspective.

The Guardian Datablog – Why accept someone else’s analysis when you can see the raw data for yourself?

Patentbolt – Where better to get your technology news than the patent office?

NHS: Behind The Headlines – A bold attempt by the NHS to provide the actual facts regarding health news headlines.

Mind Hacks – An awesome neuroscience and psychology blog from Tom Stafford and Vaughn Bell.

Dorothy Bishop’s Bishop Blog – Expert commentary from a developmental neuropsychologist.

Michael Marshall’s Bad PR – An epic non-stop smackdown of British tabloid news science coverage, conducted simply by exposing the dubious sources of PR surveys that are dressed up as real scientific research.

David McRaney’s You Are Not So Smart  – Discussion of cognitive biases and common delusions.

The New Scientist’s One Per Cent – A rich source of weird tech and science news.

Martin Robbins’ The Lay Scientist – fun critical commentary on science news.

Sense about Science and Full Fact – First class vigilante fact checkers.

BPS Research Digest – A super rundown on psychology news, straight from the British Psychological Society.

Just pick your chosen reader using the links above and throw in the links to your favourite blogs. Don’t forget to chuck in the link for this one! If you think I’ve missed something special – and I know I have, throw a link into the comments and upvote your favourites. Also, please post about any readers I’ve missed out and share your experiences with different readers. Something that’s lacking seems to be a decent offline replacement, if you find one, please let me know in the comments!

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