Monday, 18 March 2013

Saying goodbye

My heart lurched when I opened Twitter just before boarding a flight and discovered that Google are shutting down their RSS tool, Google Reader, on 1 July (I felt like their announcement pop-up needed a third button: 'OK', 'Learn more', 'Oh my god nooooooooooooooooooooooo').

Reader is how I consume vast swathes of my internet. I have, at the moment, 98 subscriptions, organised into folders called Art, Books, Advice & up-to-date (mostly web-related), Museum & library blogs, Music, Share, and Product alerts (these are searches that I keep tabs on, for example, 'dowse lower hutt'). It's the third thing I fire up every day (Email > Twitter > Reader > Work email) and one of the last things I look at at night. Over the last month I averaged nearly 100 items a day, and clicked through to about 13% of them.

Reader is where I collect ideas for the radio, where I find new music, where I track my friends and colleagues' blog posts - generally, where I stay on top of things. For nearly 6 years, it's been my daily newspaper; carefully organised to meet my needs, regularly being expanded and pruned as my tastes and interests change. This New Yorker post by Joshua Rothman captures some of my feelings (but as an active, not an inactive, user):
Just as a soldier lives for battle, just as a wolf lives for the hunt, so my Google Reader, I felt, was leading the life I was meant to lead. A few months in, after I’d carefully curated my feeds, my Reader really did seem to contain the entirety of the world of ideas.
When I found out, I felt a very genuine sense of loss. And I felt a strange bond as my twitter feed filled up with friends and acquaintances sharing the same sense of bewilderment and rage. No-one talks about using RSS anymore. No-one talks about Reader. But as Matt Howie put it in a post that explains what Reader does and why it will be hard to replace, "it wasn't easy news to take, since I thought it'd always be around like water or electricity, run by the largest technology company on earth." Between now and July, I will be both appreciating Reader more, and casting about for a replacement service. Because the internet won't be the same for me without it.


Kate C said...

Meeeee toooo! Sigh.

Kate C said...

Me again. I'm using Feedly now. It's Rather Good. Not lean like Reader but nifty in other ways.