RSS
The bright side of Google Reader's demise
Plenty of news junkies were despondent over Google shuttering its RSS service. But it's not all bad...
 
Google Reader will die this summer. But when one RSS tool kicks the bucket, many more will surely appear in its place.
Google Reader will die this summer. But when one RSS tool kicks the bucket, many more will surely appear in its place. Illustration by Lauren Hansen, Thinkstock

The news that Google is killing off its venerable RSS service, Google Reader, has caused an outcry among voracious news gatherers everywhere. Indeed, wading through Twitter on Wednesday night was like watching the five stages of grief in accelerated action.

First, there was denial:

Anger:

Bargaining:

Depression:

And, finally, acceptance:

Shuttering Reader is "very strange behavior" from Google, "and people are right to be a bit pissy about it," says Matthew Yglesias at Slate. But counter-intuitively, "this may ultimately be good news for RSS fans."

Google Reader wasn't a viable business that Google was investing in and improving.... But it was essentially impossible to compete with them either. They were the 800-pound gorilla in the RSS space, but like a hobbled 800-pound gorilla that wasn't going anywhere. [Slate]

Now, Google is leaving a big hole in the RSS universe it did so much to destroy, says Marco Arment at his blog. Sure, RSS has seen a renaissance with Apple's iOS, but almost all the iPhone apps rely on Google. With Reader out of the way, "we're finally likely to see substantial innovation and competition in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms" again. "It may suck in the interim before great alternatives mature and become widely supported, but in the long run, trust me: This is excellent news."

Yes, Google has just opened up "a serious opportunity for someone enterprising," says Mike Masnick at TechDirt. But it's also a helpful cautionary tale about relying on one single provider. Google's axing of Reader "has me directly rethinking how much I rely on Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Gmail."

Now, I don't think any of those are going away any time soon, but not too long ago (um, yesterday, according to some...) you could have said the same exact thing about Reader. I'm now planning to do a more serious personal audit of services I use and how reliant I am on a single provider, and start making sure I have working alternatives in place and ready to go. In the end, this will certainly make me a lot less tied to Google's services, which is probably a good thing, but probably not the sort of thing Google is hoping its users will be doing. [TechDirt]

Google Reader may be dead, but RSS isn't, says Neville Hobson at his blog. These days, "RSS is, effectively, part of the internet plumbing," working in the background to connect sites with one another and with Facebook, Twitter, and other services. "And maybe that's how things ought to be now. As ideas and technologies shift and evolve — where are we now? Web 3.0? — our usage methods and our behaviors shift too."

Here's the bottom line, says Balaji Viswanathan at Quora: "Google Reader doesn't fit in the core objective of Google," and hasn't for a long time. Trimming this piece of "flab" from the Google universe frees up time and resources so the company can work on things more people actually care about. "When you have got projects such as Google Glass and Driver-less cars on the horizon, it is time to close out the unnecessary stuff and place more attention on the future."

 
Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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