14 March 2013
Goodbye Google Reader
Yesterday's news from Google that they are closing down Google Reader has produced a series of outcries on the web, and lists of alternatives, along with reflections about the nature of Google as a company. Apparently, efforts to monetize RSS feeds has turned out to be difficult.
We are reminded, once again, that Google is a company, which makes money (link), and is not a free social service agency we have come to depend on.
"We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites," the company said. "While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months." (link)
Richard Byrne, at Free Technology for Teachers, described the situation very well:
"Google Reader may have had a bigger influence on my life in the ed tech world than any other single app or service. Since the day I started using it in 2006 to now it has reliably served me fresh content from all of my favorite sites and blogs."
Chris Betcher points to Google Reader's place in education: "...I’m just disappointed that Google would even consider doing this. As an enthusiastic Google user, Google Certified Teacher, and Google Apps Certified Trainer, it makes me annoyed and embarrassed that Google would kill off a product that so many people clearly care deeply about. Reader may not be sexy and shiny like Google+ but it’s hugely powerful and has an huge following.... "
You might be interested in reading Chris Wetherell's reflection, on Google+ written in 2011, as Reader's eventual end started to become clear. He was the man responsible for Google Reader, and no longer works at Google.
Here's a list of some alternative RSS readers:
The Old Reader
Update: Stephen Abram offers a fine "review of the literature" offering alternatives, opinions and ideas of how to manage your RSS feeds without Google Reader.
You can use Google Takeout to export your feeds, ready to be imported into another service. While you're on the site, download an archive from all your other Google sites, too, as backup. It's good to do this regularly, in any case.
On a personal note, I will add that this is my 3rd recent experience with Google distancing itself from me. The first was the termination of iGoogle as a start page product. The next was the decision no longer to support the Chrome browser on "older" Apple OS (I have a Mac running on OS 10.5.8, on which Firefox has now become my main browser). I will find new ways to read my 455 subscriptions, and take one step further away from (what was) the fine package of apps and services accessible with my Google password.