Thursday, March 14, 2013

First They Came...

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks Please see this post at

Google Reader is one of my favorite products from Google, but it is one of their lesser-known ones. It is a feed reader, which means that whenever certain sites post new content it tells me and in many cases it presents the entire content of the post right there. This means that I don't have to go and individually visit every webcomic, blog, podcast, and news site that I like to read. I just keep Google Reader open and when there are unread articles I open them right there. Pretty powerful, huh? I know that many of you visit this blog when you see me posting about a new article on Google+ or Facebook; but that method becomes pretty bad if you are trying to follow many blogs.

One of the blogs that I read is the Official Google Blog. About two years ago they started "spring cleaning," which means retiring old products that nobody uses anymore. I followed this news with interest, and while a few interesting products got taken down (Google Wave) I had used almost none of them (Google Desktop and Related Pages were the exceptions, but I didn't use them extensively.) But today I saw another post with the spring cleaning title, and as I read through it my blood ran cold.

Google Reader is retiring on July 1st 2013.

After I finished swearing at my monitor and sending a distressed email to +Ryan Rampersad (who is also an avid feed reader) I calmed down enough to think about it.
I can understand that not that many people use Google Reader, because most people don't know what an RSS feed is.
However, Reader had enough users to warrant a switch to the almost-flat design that graces most Google pages. Compare it to Google Code's homepage, which looks like a webpage from over five years ago.
Does maintaining Reader really take that much work? Can't Google just keep it as it is for minimal cost?

I guess I know hoMartin Niemöller felt when he wrote these words:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Okay, so this isn't nearly as serious, but still. Somebody tell Google that Reader is a wonderful, easy-to-use tool that many people love!
I guess we all know that the only thing to do is to find an alternative feed reader. I'll take a look around, see what's out there. If anyone has suggestions, shoot me an email.