Google announces Reader closure

Google announced the impending death of Reader yesterday.  I actually only found out about it this morning following a deluge of tweets in my feed about it.

In the main, it seems people aren’t happy:-

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And these were just a few sentiments from the 534 people I’m following.

From a personal perspective, I’m very disappointed.  Ben Goldacre tweeted about his ‘morning trip’ to Reader, and with that I can identify.  My daily visit to Reader is just before bedtime.  Last thing I do before I switch off the lights and snuggle up to Mrs Mat is quickly check through the interesting posts for the day.  I read some, I favourite others and, about once a month I work through them to decide what I actually want to really keep hold of.  I figure I’ve learned more from the feeds I’m subscribed to than I would have without a similar service to aggregate them all together.

Thing is, without something like Google Reader, I just wouldn’t visit all of the sites I’m subscribed to daily to check if there are new posts.  I’d forget them, lose them, and miss out on what I consider to be ‘the news’ – or at least the news that I’m interested in.  It’s a real shame.

Google Reader isn’t great however.  In fact, it’s downright clunky and probably missing a lot of really useful features, but it’s a great little tool.  On my iPad I use Feeedler to access my feeds and I get to process them in exactly the same way that I would online.  Again, it’s a shame that I won’t be able to do that in a couple of months.  I’m sure there will be decent alternatives that spring up, some free and (unfortunately) some paid, but it’s going to take some time to get something that feels the same and works in the same way.

So, why would Google do this to us?  Is it the end of the RSS feed?  I certainly hope not.  What I’m hoping for is that the closure of Reader will prompt somebody clever to do something cleverer and not only bring it back, but to breathe new life into it (in the same way Jeff Atwood did with Q&A services with Stackoverflow, for example).

Looking at things from a completely different point of view, this could be a good thing…couldn’t it?  Whilst I do love the idea of having my feeds together in one place, they can become a source of regular nightly procrastination.  Without them, I might get more done.  Another positive may be that people actually spend more time on the actual websites rather than the feeds…who knows?  I’m sure Google have done what they think is the right thing, and shortly we’ll just get on with it, but I can’t help but feel they’ve scored a monumental own goal in adding this useful service to their ‘spring clean’.  When a huge corporation can switch off services without notice or opinion from loyal users I feel it’s more than unfair.

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