Mission Monocle: Chasing Mona Lisa In An Online Reader

Mission Monocle: Chasing Mona Lisa In An Online Reader

1024 539 Raymond Blijd

Read time: 2 min.

Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st. It has been my filter of the internet and a window to the world for over 8 years. It helped me focus in the chaos of content on things that matter to me. I can honestly say it has made me smarter by helping me discover countless artifacts and precious information I would otherwise have never seen. Now my mission is to find a replacement and if I don’t, I will build one. Here’s what I’m looking for.

There are numerous articles deliberating its demise and many more posting alternatives. The decision to stop may be understandable, but it belies the cries of a declining but vocal minority. I must admit that lately Google Reader was just the engine that fed my other apps which have more modern design and features. In a previous post, I explained how to create a personalized newspaper. Now I’m chasing something more ambitious.

1. Is it convenient?
Google Reader was a simple app but what made it special for me is the following:

  • It was the first cloud app enabling me to access it on any PC
  • It was my first mobile app which made me use it daily
  • RSS feeds enabled me to aggregate information from across multiple sites, sources and topics
  • By tagging, I was able to group and filter based on my own interests
  • Not just news but it doubled as a personally curated repository for research

In short, it gave me the freedom to be diverse and to balance work and play.

2. Will it make me smart?
There’s still the attraction of one window for all information, but now I crave more. The speed in which you can cycle through content, the clear presentation and sharing features are delightful. However, I’m looking for a service that will help me easily filter or mute the noise and help me schedule consumption. One that can correctly alert me and integrate with other apps and silos of information. It doesn’t need to have an elaborate feature set but must strive to eliminate copy-paste or window switching. It should be able to gauge what I know and most likely what I want to know and, therefore, find, filter and organize that what I need to know.

3. Is it Mona Lisa?
There is a wide variety of services which are capable replacements. I have gone through some established names and encounter a few unusual suspects. Most differentiate on design and presentation, some even have a few neat tricks, but I haven’t found my “Mona Lisa”.

I lifted this quote from a video ( (32 min. mark) of Roger McNamee (Elevation Partners and Facebook investor): “.. content protection would be similar to that of the Mona Lisa …It’s hard to paint something like the Mona Lisa…”. I believe this rule also applies to any product or service that aims for loyalty or retention.

Leonardo Da Vinci drew 750 anatomy sketches, but only one resulted in the Vitruvian Man. Below is my first sketch and according to innovation scholars I have 3000 to go.