When Google announced the demise of Google Reader, I wailed, gnashed my teeth, and feverishly read every single article I could find about its demise and the possible alternatives through my Twitter and RSS feeds. It was a catch-all for all the 250 sites and blogs who would post about the myriad of subjects I enjoyed, and I checked it regularly every day, alongside Facebook and Twitter.
However after a couple of days, I simmered down and thought “I can learn from this…”
1. There are a lot of people like me! I was amazed and impressed at the outrage that unfurled over Twitter, as people vented and blogged about it.
2. There are a lot of people not like me- Mr BG has never shown an inclination to use Google reader, Facebook or Twitter. He has a couple of blogs and sites he visits every day, and relies on colleagues and myself to provide him with information he may like or want. Even the creator of RSS didn’t use Google Reader,
3. You can’t rely on Google. From the way searches are personalised so that you are not entirely getting all the information from a Google search, to shutting down its Reader API, affecting many businesses and apps which rely upon it, Google is behaving like all the big businesses that simply don’t care about how their actions affect hard-core users. I know that Google are a business and they wished to concentrate on Google+ and Reader was not monetized in the way that any of their other products were. Yet for a company whose mantra is “Don’t be evil”, their decision to shut Reader down is tantamount to the kid taking his ball and going home, leaving the rest of the kids a bit bemused and very pissed off.
4. Data cannot tell you everything about the human/social experience. Despite crunching numbers and seeing the gradual decline of RSS as an information-seeking tool, Google failed to see the human impact of its decision (or ignored it as it could not be quantified). The fact that an architect for Google+ asked users what it was about Google reader that was such a good experience indicates they had very little idea about its popularity amongst a series of hard-core users.
5. I have to accept that as technology evolves, I shouldn’t get stuck in the same information-seeking rut. I am now using Feedly, which is a bit more of a visual feast than Google Reader, but I am enjoying the change. And if they upgrade and ever move to a paying service, I would happily pay for that (hear that Google?)
6. I am an information junkie. If the death of an internet application is affecting me this much, should I be seeking help? Go cold turkey? Intentionally leave my phone at home? Something to ponder…
7. RSS isn’t dead– apart from Feedly, there are a whole range of applications either replicate the Reader experience or are a little bit different to be interesting.