I read a lot of stuff on the web. It’s how I try to keep as up to date as possible with my professional and personal interests, especially around technology. Yes, Twitter helps with that too, but it’s all too easy to miss something on Twitter when you follow a lot of people (I rely on saved searches a lot). By far the easiest way for me to keep on top of a large amount of content is to subscribe to RSS feeds in Google Reader.
When I’m at my desk, if I don’t have the Google Reader site open all day, I’ll at least check it 2 or 3 times. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll check my GR feeds via a 3rd party app on my phone. In the evening, I’ll sometimes keep track of new news via another 3rd party app on my tablet. In other words, I use Google Reader all the freaking time.
Today, my stats in Google Reader tell me this:
From your 394 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 6,517 items, clicked 176 items, starred 2 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since October 25, 2006 you have read a total of 285,200 items.
Now Google has announced that they’re going to shut down Reader on 1st July 2013. Personally I think they tried to bury the lead by putting the closure of Reader as the 5th item in a list of 8, and by posting it just after the election of a new Pope.
I had a conversation earlier today about the value of Reader to Google, and there was a suggestion that seeing people’s reading habits holding value when you mine the data (as Google does across all its properties). My stance on that is that they’ve probably got the demographic data pretty well locked down for the sort of people who use Reader – it’s a minority anyway and likely fairly easy to pigeon-hole – so returns on that are probably diminishing. Regardless of that, it’s a bad idea for them to annoy that demographic, which will contain a lot of early adopters and influencers in the tech industry.
Personally, I’m boycotting Chrome right now (although that probably won’t last), and I was considering making a purchase of a new Android device, which I’m now going to give some more thinking time. Neither of those things will probably bother Google, but it’s making me feel a bit better today because I’m pissed off.
I’m sure that by the 1st July there will be a viable alternative. None of the other options today have the ecosystem that Reader has. I expect that there may even be something better – it’s been a while since Google have actively developed Reader and there are some areas where it’s holding back the clients from developing new, innovative features. I’m not even sure that the transition will be that painful, it’s just annoying that something that’s so widely used and appreciated is going away while other, less used Google products are continuing on.
I am going to stop short of blaming the new Pope for this, but I think that Hitler sums up the situation quite well in this instance: