If you are like most of the inhabitants of earth, you won’t recognize any difference.
If you are like some of my friends and have followed (in my case, from the high-up bleacher seats) the nuanced RSS battles over the past 12 or so years, you might recognize that by exiting the reader product space, Google is offering the world a mulligan on their failed shot at creating a decent news reader. (Or, as Dave Winer suggests, Google’s failed attempt at “efficiently killing RSS.”)
If you use Google Reader, you’ve likely discovered there are lots of alternatives that, in my opinion, are already superior to Google Reader.*
Frankly, at this point, we can all benefit if lots of innovators are battling it out.
When Google announced it was pulling the plug on Google Reader, I posted something that, at the time, seemed contrary to what lots of people were writing who were lamenting its demise. I thought then, and still do: Good riddance!
I won’t repeat it all, but here is a highlight of the post I titled, “Google Reader was a Google Pigpen product”:
“While I’ve used Google Reader to catch and organize content syndicated via RSS, I’ve never used Google Reader as a news reader…You can usually tell when Google is very committed to a new product (when you can connect dots from the product to something that competes with Apple, Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon) and when it isn’t (it usually has the term “labs” associated with it). And, unfortunately for everyone who could have been better served by a great RSS newsreader, Google Reader has always been as “Pigpen” as it gets. It just never felt like it had a champion inside Google with enough clout to make it anything more than mediocre.”
The web, as we use it today, is dependent on the data and information and content that flow through the magic tubes of the internet called RSS. And for as long as there has been RSS, there have been those who have predicted its demise. (But not me.)
The end of Google Reader is in no way the end of RSS.
As said in that Pigpen Post, the end of Google Reader is a good thing for those who want to see developers come up with different types of readers or apps or whatever can help us get to the information we each find most important to us individually.
Those of us who have spent the past decade trying to make the internet’s content flow past us in some orderly way (or to enjoy its river-like rapids from time to time) are not too concerned with Google Reader going away.
We gave up on it a long time ago.
*Here’s a roundup of alternative on Lifehacker.com. My temporary approach has been to export my subscriptions to an OPML backup file and use Feedly.com for the time-being. Feedly.com is definitely the bouquet-catching bridesmaid in the Google Reader shut-down–if nothing more than for the fact they were already in the process of trying to create a more user-friendly alternative “client” for using Google Reader. But stay-tuned – Feedly may find their current status short-lived in the far front edges of the world inhabited by never-pleased geek early adopters.