If you use Google’s feedreader known as Reader or pay any attention to the internet, you may have heard that Google Reader will no longer exist at mid-year. These are some of my comments on its retirement.
1. Read my friend Bob Plankers’s post in its entirety: What Content Creators and Consumers Should Do Now That Google Reader Is Dead. It’s very well-written and thorough.
Now is not a good time to evaluate a new cloud-based news reading product because they’re all performing sub-optimally. [If you want to prepare, do] milk the free trials. It’ll also be telling who makes changes and who doesn’t. The clients that don’t change probably should be looked at as being abandoned by their developers.
… You might use this opportunity to export all your data [via Google Takeout] so you have it backed up on your own terms.
… if you’re using any of the Google products for your blog, like Blogger or Blogspot, you should be looking at your options and setting yourself up to move in the future. If you aren’t using your own domain that should be high on your to-do list, because it means you have more control over what happens to your readers. Use DNS to always present your readers a host name that you control, even if it means paying for a higher tier of service in a blogging platform.
2. My answer to “a free service is a crappy service” is “a crappy service is crappy data.” In other words, “if you’re not paying for a service, you’re not the customer, you’re the product, the real customers are advertisers” is a weak excuse to make a subpar offering. If I were Google or Facebook and wanted to collect accurate information on my users for my real customers, I’d make an even better free product. It keeps the
sheep mindless free-loading users happy and coming back for more, and collects real, more valuable data. For example, a share from Reader to Google+ or Twitter usually includes my explanatory note and comments from my friends; this is more nuanced feedback on customer habits and better input to models. Again, a Dislike button on Facebook would be more telling. Who you’re friends with on Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Google+ is a veritable goldmine of data right there. I could go on. As it stands, the data I have provided to Google and social media outlets have fallen on deaf ears in Ad-Model-Crunching Land because none of this advertising speaks to me, it’s annoying and I haven’t made a single purchase through sidebar ads or suggested posts.
Wait a whole second, are you suggesting that I pay for a better service so that the service provider can get better information on and more targeted ads to me? That’s rich.
3. Aldo Cortesi says, “Reader was undeniably a good product … Google destroyed the RSS feed reader ecosystem with a subsidized product, stifling its competitors and killing innovation.” Why would a subsidized product stop a competitor from innovating? Surely, other better feedreaders could have taken over even in the face of Google’s market share and because of its neglect of Reader. I asked this of Cortesi, along with more information about Google’s competitor stifling, but I guess it’s fashionable not to respond to Twit-plebes or not to have a comments’ section on your blog these days.
4. A good indicator of what Google wants to keep and grow is the bar at the top: Google+, Search, Maps, Play, Watch (YouTube), Drive. Google+ is first. Removing my main posting mechanism, i.e. Share from Reader, to Google+ will make me use it less. +1s are the equivalent of likes; they are forms of passive interaction and not active content upload. Expect Plus to go the way of Buzz, Wave, Fuzz, Zzzz, etc.
5. Note to feedreaders waiting in the wings: Build on the good points of Reader’s user interface:
- Maximum use of screen real estate with the compact view. I am not a fan of the Feedly magazine look, especially when most blogs don’t post pictures. Yay, small useless rectangular white boxes all over my screen.
- Give me the option to decide what’s important. Please don’t take random articles from various feed folders and place them at the top as FEATURED!!!1! A list of Latest to Oldest sorted by All Feeds and Folders is great and sufficient.
- Please offer a way to subscribe to a blog without a feedreader button (tsk tsk) easily and immediately, like a bookmarklet.
- Feel free not to be the one-stop shop. It’s okay if my friends’ tweets and Facebook posts from their favorite restaurants are not interspersed with content-filled articles and posts I’d like to cache and read while waiting to get my face drilled or when on a long flight.
- As a blogger, I love starring and storing posts and notes for future reference. A simple list like Stuff I’ve Starred would be wonderful. A feed for Stuff I’ve Starred would make me hug you.
Feedly is a good-enough replacement for now, although Firefox shuns the add-on from time to time forcing me to re-install it (no, thank you, I will not switch to Chrome). Will report back with Feedly for iPod and iPad after I’ve played with it for a while. Meanwhile, if you find good desktop+tablet+smartphone feedreader options and workarounds, please let me know in the comments below.