When Google announced its plans to shutter Google Reader in March, the Internet freaked out. Twitter users raised their virtual pitchforks in outrage. Bloggers wept, scrambling to find a suitable replacement by the service’s July 1 death date.
Wired runs a take on why Google Reader is almost no more. I do agree with most of the points on how the news consumption changed:
But there’s another reason Google decided to put its RSS reader to death. According to Mountain View, most of us simply consume news differently now than when Reader was launched.
“As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process,” says Richard Gringras, Senior Director, News & Social Products at Google. “Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day — replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day.”
Google Reader, and other RSS readers, subscribe to this “old” model. You sit, you pore through the day’s news link by link. Yes, some people are glued to their readers constantly. (Guilty!) And yes, you can use an app like Feedly to get your RSS fix on the go, but it’s a passive news-getting experience. With its updates to Now and Plus, Google wants its readers to take this more active approach to news consumption.
But I don’t like this narrow view of the Google Reader (or other RSS readers). RSS is not just for news. Sure, news are an important part of Really Simple Syndication, but it’s not the only one. There are many others – Wiki updates, mailing lists, commit messages, shopping updates for deals and stock clearances, etc. Even if Google considers supporting those with Google+, the support is not there yet. Heck, there isn’t even a publishing API for Google+. As a blogger, I have built up a small audience of subscribers, but there is currently no way for me to transfer them all to Google+. Unless I really push them, and then manually publish every post into Google+. It even sounds ridiculous.
We’ll see how it plays out …