Google Reader

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

Open or Siloed Identity?


I was fortunate enough to hear Kim talk at the MS Security Summit I attended today. Whilst I thought I had a pretty good understanding of Infocards/”Cardspace” and the Identity Metasystem, hearing it explained in this way was very useful and I’ve left with an even greater understanding. Whilst the demo’s were obviously using the Microsoft implementation of the ideas the open-ness of the system was evident and the effect that this will have on our industry in the future. I’ve a couple of technical questions that have come up, but I’ll get back to those later (and unfortunately I’d been booked to be elsewhere this afternoon so was unable to hang around for questions in person!)

Having seen this post tonight (one of the best things about RSS feeds is that I can miss a few days and have everything sat waiting for me to catch up!), it’s a striking comparison between the two giants’ approaches to the problem. I’ve previously written about how the trust in the two companies is different and it’s been noted again that, perhaps at least part of the reason for the new Microsoft open approach is the failure of Passport (as an Internet-wide universal Identity, at least) whereas Google thinks it can avoid those same mistakes with its siloed identity systems (Google seems to be increasingly arrogant in all areas of its business).

One thing that does worry me is that one of the reasons, IMHO, that Passport failed was that by that time, Microsoft’s reputation was already low – security was always a problem in Windows. In contrast, Google has an almost unhealthy positive reputation amongst most web users. They are quite capable of churning out substandard products and services that somehow get rave reviews in the media and from a certain group of people – whilst there is another group becoming more suspicious (and critical) of Google and everything it does. Unfortunately I get the feeling that this second group is suffering from the echo-chamber effect of the blogosphere and not much is getting out to the wider world. Given this, it’s entirely possible that the Google way could gain some traction, despite the activities of all those involved in the work so far – maybe some more publicity is required to prevent this from happening..?

Rohan Pinto also points to Kim’s post.

Addendum: Paul has already asked the questions I wanted to.