Much as happened when I got my DVR and stopped watching TV until it filled up, my adoption of Google Reader as my blog reader has made me stop reading blogs. There’s a slight similarity in that they both (further) disconnect the user in time from the medium. A blog reader goes one more step and disconnects your experience almost entirely. It’s interesting to me that reading blogs in their own context was such an important part of what made me keep coming back. Even incredibly badly designed blogs have a certain visual and visceral appeal, a certain character that draws one in. I mean even ugly things can be interesting, right?
It’s also possible that the reader makes reading blogs too efficient, in almost the same way that the Google news page makes news too encapsulated. Again there’s a certain similarity with the DVR–once you can fast forward TV, you rapidly realize just how little content there is in an hour of commercial programming. And with blog and news readers you can feel very quickly like you’re “done,” because you’ve removed so much of the contextual and semantic chaos of surfing 30 different pages. In a world where the medium is the message, maybe it’s not such a good idea to disintermediate entirely.
But if you’re looking to quit reading blogs, I highly recommend the reader. It’s methadone for blog reading addicts. You get the content without the high. For a few days I kept up on all my blog reading, probably in half the normal time. And yet when I was done I felt empty, as if I had missed out on something. Gradually that feeling faded, until I didn’t feel like I needed to read blogs any more at all. So thanks, Google, for helping me kick the habit, when I wasn’t even looking to.