menu

How To Live Life After Google Reader

How To Live Life After Google Reader
Advertising

Why RSS is a people's platform and how this was the cause of the tech giant's termination of its popular service.

Plus Aziz
  • 9 april 2013

RSS is a core tool for trend spotters and information junkies. Social media tools, like Twitter, may provide robust platforms for discovering information but Google Reader can synthesize this mass of content, while allowing users to tailor what they read to their needs and interests. Because of these handy functions, it has become beloved by many across the globe and it follows that the news of its demise has been received with frustration. As PSFK Editor Dave Pinter, mentioned:

I consider myself a Google Reader power user and it has been an invaluable tool for keeping up with news on the web and doing research. It is all function and no flash, but that is exactly what I need. I’ve started my day with scanning feeds in Reader for years and I rely on it for work… The larger worry though is losing Google’s server power which could make any of these replacements not as speedy.

Pinter’s comments highlight that any service that replaces Reader will need to meet a number of conditions. It will require server power for ultimate performance and an interface that will help users wade through masses of information, as well as offering up the option of customizable content. Several existing platforms meet select requirements; Feed.ly, for example,may be a potential replacement for Reader, but its graphic design slows it right down. Zite and Flipboard are fast but have limited reach and scope.  None of these alternatives seem to match Google Reader, which was, and is, fast, extensive and easy to navigate.

The death of Reader, and the subsequent reaction to it, underlines our reliance on giants like Facebook and Google and highlight the need to diversify the channels through which consumers receive information. It is possible to turn to other platforms, like Feed.ly, Hootsuit, Zite, Flipboard, that serve the same functions as these behemoths, with less risk of waking up to radically changed settings and interfaces without user consent. On Twitter, users can create extensive lists of interesting people to follow, they can also revamp their Facebook usage so to use it more as a news reader than a social networking tool.

Assessing Experts’ Opinions on RSS Technology

The decision to shut down Google Reader met with a variety of responses. Some critics pointed to Google’s desire to prioritize profitability rather than its users, while others others lauded the development as a victory for social news. In Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, author Ryan Holiday gave a context to the closure, bringing the issue of RSS decline to the table. Since RSS allows the reader to be in control, he argued, publishers and bloggers have a bias against it.

Whereas subscriptions are about trust, single-use traffic is all immediacy and impulse… The reason subscription (and RSS) was abandoned was because in a subscription economy the users are in control… RSS never became truly mainstream for this reason… It comes as no surprise that despite glowing reports from satisfied readers and major investments from Google and others that it would not be able to make it. So today, as RSS buttons disappear from browsers and blogs, just know that this happened on purpose

The New Yorker‘s Archive Editor drew attention to the lack of development for RSS users, reminiscing nostalgically that “using Twitter feels, to me, like joining a club; Reader felt like filling up a bookcase. It was a place for organizing your knowledge, and also for stating, and reviewing, your intentions and commitments. It kept a record of the things you meant to read but never did; of the writers you loved but don’t anymore.” Indeed, as Dave Pinter noted, RSS is primarily a functional tool that has not evolved over time, because it is more like an extensive archive for story-building than a network that encourages peer-to-peer interaction. This may explain why it has been stuck in arrested development. Why bother developing technology which will not encourage sharing and social networking?

RSS inventor Dave Winer hit back in a biting opinion piece, describing Google Reader as “a mailbox approach to news.” He stressed the importance of having users buy into a given service, emphasizing, “next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on. Those have a better chance of surviving the [tech] bubbles”. PC Mag framed his perspective succinctly by writing that Mr.Winer “feels as if Google is looking to do to news what companies like Apple have done to apps or Twitter has done to real-time information. Which is to say, restrict access to subscription news on a free level and generate some kind of business incentive for companies or users that want to continue to participate in such a process.”

Closing Remarks: Google ♥s Advertisers

British left-leaning newspaper, The Guardian, claimed that Google is in the midst of a vigorous ‘spring clean,’ of which Reader was a victim.

It’s easy to see the managerial reasons for killing Reader. Google is in the middle of a spring clean, trying to focus resources in fewer places. Even mature products with no apparent updates cost money to keep alive within Google’s internal and constantly-morphing infrastructure… But those core Reader users are worth more to Google than any random million Google+ posters. They are the journalists, the producers, the specialist communicators, who need to absorb hundreds and thousands of the web’s primary sources a day

However, to say that Google is simply going through minor changes is disputable.  There may be a larger goal in place to deepen the efficiency of its platforms for advertisers, including Chrome and Google’s app store. Not only has Google begun to eradicate ad blockers and browser extensions from its store, but it has also made efforts to tailor its services towards advertising and media agencies, as evinced through the Creative Sandbox or ProjectRe:Brief. The company’s reasons for shutting down Reader could potentially be traced to the difficulty it is having in reconciling an open platform while still serving the needs of brands and advertisers.

Even without Reader, the wealth of tools out there is immense and constantly changing. If someone is browsing the Internet the same way they were browsing six months ago, they are falling behind. Google’s rejection of RSS should not be taken as a universal statement, but it is what Google believes it must do to hone its vision for the future. Tech giants will continue to be disinterested in RSS because it puts users in control and is not an advertiser-friendly space. When it comes down to it, RSS is a people’s platform and destined to serve a niche user base. Technology may play a major part in today’s lifestyles, but it remains important to be skeptical about the permanence of anything giants like Google can provide.

Advertising
Trending

Lyft Gives Free Rides To Those Who Have Had Too Much To Drink

Advertising
Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

Outdoor Camp Presented In 360° VR By X Games Gold Medalist

The video features campers riding BMX trails, zip lining through the woods, and performing big-air jumps

Travel Today

Boeing Wants Passengers To Control Their In-Flight Experience Through Their Phones

The airline manufacturer is embracing automation through a new generation of mobile travel apps

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Augmented / Virtual Reality Today

VR Surgery Videos Offer Interactive Medical Education

Dutch startup MDLinking hopes to globalize communication between students and medical care professionals with virtual reality content

Culture Today

Use Twitter To Learn A New Language

tDict is an app that uses the social media platform to help you search for words in local dialects

Related Expert

James George

Interactive Storyteller

Mobile Today

This Startup Wants To Digitize The Loose Coins In Your Pocket

CoinOut is a new app that lets you save your extra change from cash transactions as electronic funds

Advertising Today

McDonald’s Is Accepting Trash As Currency In Exchange For Burgers

An initiative in Stockholm is trying to keep streets clean while satisfying hunger

Culture Today

Google Is Using Virtual Paper Airplanes To Bring People Closer Together

The tech giant released an app that lets people throw their good wishes out into the world on the International Day of Peace

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Advertising Today

Get Paid For Traveling In San Francisco After Rush Hour

BART Perks rewards commuters who take early or late trains by giving them extra points to trade for money

Culture Today

Artist Designs Covers For Books That Don’t Exist

Published by the fictional 'Specious Books,' the subversive works facilitate a conversation regarding the artistic integrity of graphic designers

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Food Today

Bringing Food Innovation To America’s Crowded Milk Market

a2 Milk's Blake Waltrip, Chief Executive of the USA region, discusses how the distributor plans on bringing the popular drink for the dairy-sensitive to the States

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Augmented / Virtual Reality Today

NBC Is Planning To Stream The Presidential Debates In Virtual Reality

Partnering with AltspaceVR, the broadcaster offers another way for Americans to engage with the election season

Travel Today

What Happens When An Entire Airport Terminal Rebrands Itself?

JFK's Terminal 4 underwent a dramatic design facelift to guide and delight travelers

Home september 23, 2016

Watch This Fire Pit Dance Along To Your Favorite Song

Music City Fire is a system that is designed to flicker in time to ambient music

No search results found.