By now, anyone using Google Reader should probably know that it’s going to shutdown on July 1 this year. Personally, I think it’s a shame, but not entirely unexpected.
I use Google Reader daily and in fact it’s the only Google service I still have need for (although I’ve kept Gmail as a backup mail service – it’s good to have a secondary address that can be used for temporary communication, particularly with one use web sites). Once the decision was taken to let the feedburner service run down I always assumed Reader wouldn’t be far behind.
I think there are some issues with the concept of RSS as a “consumer” technology – these implementations never quite gained the popularity I think they should have. I’ve introduced other people to the idea and seen how it can help ease the way that updates are retrieved from web sites. Anyone working online should have least have tried it, but I think the perception was always that it’s a geeky tool and little used. Hopefully the outcry around the web about Google’s decision will contradict that.
One of the comments I was most interested in around this decision was from Dave Winer. Dave makes two points that are worth mentioning; Firstly around his favoured “River of News” approach, I think this is personal preference. One of the reasons I like the Reader style RSS approach (or inbox style, as he refers to it) is that I don’t miss the stories – rivers mean that much is missed, if I don’t see the story when it’s still onscreen I may never see it (this incidentally is my biggest complaint with Twitter as well). The way that I, and in my experience, most other people use RSS is to have that collection of stories that I can come back to when *I* want. If I’m out for a few days I can skim over the list and read as much or as little as I like. I also find the Inbox metaphor constricting – these are not messages to me and no-one is expecting a response; if I mark all as read, no-one is going to chase me for a response!
Dave’s second interesting point is also, to me, somewhat ingenuous.
Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on.
I, like most people are happy to pay for a good service and there are paid for services out there, unfortunately they are, from what I’ve seen just not as good (for various definitions of good) as Google Reader. Quite frankly, everything else I’ve tried to use so far has fallen short. I have paid for apps that provide a front-end to Google Reader (on both iPhone and Mac) that ultimately use the service as a back end. These add value to the experience.
I’ll obviously be checking out alternatives to Google Reader from now. Any suggestions would be welcome!
Addendum: The Ars Technica story and discussion