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Farewell Google Reader

rip-google-reader So Google are killing off Google Reader, that name either means something to you, or it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t that’s not a bad thing, it just means you probably come from a different age of IT than many of its users.

What is it?

At it’s core Google Reader is an RSS Feed container, it’s a place where you could add the sites that you like to read on the web, and it would use something called RSS which in simple terms are headlines for web pages on sites delivered in a standard format. So rather than visiting all the websites you like to read Google Reader had all the latest stories in a single place, and a count of how many you had not read since you last visited. As well as being able to read the stories you could also share them on social sites and comment on them too.

Google announced that they are killing off on 1st June 2013 the Webs most popular site of its kind, the most supported one by 3rd party apps and that raises more than a few questions.

Why I used Google Reader

I read a lot of tech blogs and sites and used Google reader as a central location to keep the RSS feeds in, and then used apps on the various platforms I use to tap into Google Reader giving me a cross platform central source for all my News on whatever platform I was using, so News360, Feedly, Flipboard for example would all tap into Google reade and display the data slightly diferently however always the same data. It was a well supported API and many Feed readers make use of it.

Why are Google Killing it?

Well according to an article on GigaOm, Chris Wetherell a member of the original team behind Google Reader

Google Reader was doomed to fail from the very beginning: the company never really believed in it and it took big effort on part of a small team to make it work.

An interesting statement and Chris, a man himself behind many successful start-ups also makes several other observations about the product, citing the writing was on the wall as soon as Google+ introduced +1 to the service. What was also interesting is just how tied into Google’s proprietary search system Google Reader is, evidently it’s the reason why Google will need to end of life Reader rather than just OpenSource it.,

However there must be more to this than just out with the under performing because Google Reader is best in class, it is judging by the tech press feedback today post announcement it seems the whole world is using Reader.

It’s also strange that a company like Google is turning its back on a much under appreciated data set, sure Google are farming your mail, calendar, you tube choices what you +1 on Google+. the things you read regularly an choose to read are important, the stories you read tell Google a lot about you, potentially far more than what you buy on Google Store or watch on Netflix because its far more part of your chosen interest group, that is if the data is mined correctly.

The investment in an ecosystem

There however is a hugely more important issue than just the killing of another possibly lucrative Google Service, its yet again Google putting FUD into their services. If Google can end of life a retentively popular service such as Reader what else could it put the kibosh on in its drive towards social +1 acceptance. When you choose Google, Apple or whatever eco system you end up with you expect services to hang around, what this experiences teaches us is the more we become dependent on these walled gardens the more we have to be careful on the choices we make. Because as cool as these services are, they can disappear just as quickly as they arrive.

Where too now?

The question on many a blogger and tech sites lips, where do we go in the post Google Reader world, where there is data to be had even if Google don’t see the lucrative site of the service. Feedly are working on a back end replacement, Digg have also stepped up to the plate to push all their developers towards a drop in replacement. Old Reader is a service borne out of the change in 2011 when Google +1’ed Google Reaer and has potential.

Right now my money is on Feedly, it has an ecosystem for ll the current to tier systems IOS, Android, Web etc however if Digg can offer a drop in replacement with a similar API to Reader it could gain traction very quickly.

 Is this the death or RSS?

Finally I have to ask is this the death or RSS? I hope not, RSS is a protocol from the dawn of Web 2.0 and it was the glue which held many platforms together. It is an example of a cross site standard which was used to link many services. In today’s world the best equivalent is Twitter, which is often fed by RSS Systems. I don’t think this is the death of RSS, it’s still greatly used and while the big Social giants may tell you that the Stream approach of current systems like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are what we want, and there is no place for a mailbox type system. I disagree I think it’s important to not miss some of the longer read stories from the likes or Ars Technica, GigaOm and the Verge which could be missed on the river system.

Conclusion

The death of Reader is important because it symbolises much, the apprent death of one of the ways in which we consume news, its an example of just how much control big companies have over our data/lives and it also shows that were major companies fear to go there is always someone with the vision to pick up and carry on. Reader may be bead, but RSS isn’t …

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This entry was posted on March 14, 2013 by in comment, Google, ilike and tagged , , , , , .
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