As a savvy internet user, you’ve probably noticed those RSS buttons on the sites you enjoy visiting. If you never got around to figuring out what they did, this post won’t mean much for you.
But if you’re a fan of the ease and helpfulness of RSS feeds, you know how great they can be for keeping track of your favorite sites and topics. You also probably used Google Reader, one of the most popular RSS readers. If you’re one of those people, I’ve got some bad news.
Google Reader On the Way Out
Last Night, as Mat Honan reports for Wired, “Google announced that it’s killing off Google Reader effective July 1, 2013.” Reader has been a beloved we-based service to read news feeds from sites they wanted to keep track of. The service has been around for about eight years, but recently Google had been paying little attention to it, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to people familiar with the subject.
Part of the problem leading up to Google closing the service is its increasing change to focus on fewer products. Additionally, the growth of Google+ has been a huge priority for Google. As Mat writes, in 2001 the removal of “the ability to natively share” content on Reader and replacing it with Google+ sharing “was effectively the end of the Reader community.” Google even uncharacteristically gave up providing much service or support for Reader leading up to this announcement.
Apparently this is one move out of many in Google’s spring cleaning this year. Quite a few programs and ideas are getting the ax as Google downsizes the number of projects and products it works on. That doesn’t mean that people are happy about these changes! Of course, the change Google is getting the most flack for is Google Reader.
Users Are Angry!
RSS isn’t necessarily a mainstream tool, but for people in business and for agencies, it can help keep information organized and can help you stay timely and informed on certain issues and topics. Google Reader had attracted a relatively large user-base, and their reactions have taken over Twitter, and Google Reader has become quite the trending topic.
As Chris Taylor at Mashable writes, “And that giant ‘NOOOOOO’ sound is the Internet’s reaction to Google’s most unpopular decision in – well as far back as I can remember.” There are countless tweets from thousands of people lamenting the pending shutdown of Google Reader. Even my own Facebook and Twitter account were full of a few posts concerning the announcement.
Some of the tweets are funny, many angry, a few supportive of Google’s decision, and one fairly cynical. A Reuters article about Google Reader shutdown quotes one Twitter user stating, “Shutdown of Google Reader because of a ‘lack of consumer appeal?’ No way. The simple reason: RSS can’t be controlled and monetized easily.” Ouch!
There’s even a hilarious Dear Google website, which has already been tweeted over 3,400 times. If you feel inclined to sign a petition, there are already two set up for supporters of Google Reader. One at Change.org and the other at Keep Google Reader. Lastly, Mashable has a good list of alternatives you can use now.
Is there Hope Google Reader Won’t be Shut Down?
With the growing number of angered and vocal users, will Google reconsider? I’m not really sure – Google rarely makes choices that anger many people on the internet. It will be interesting to see if Google holds to their word or if they bend to pressure. Spring cleaning can be hard, but Google could be showing how committed it is to its plans to focus on fewer products and services. Still, I think there would be room to let Google Reader keep chugging along.
Do you use Google Reader? Are you upset, happy, or indifferent about the service being taken down in July?
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