Monday, March 10, 2014

Google Reader: a retrospective

When I first heard, I admit I was furious. I don't normally set much store by interweb facilities. Sure, I enjoy Facebook for the photos, LinkedIn for the networking, Gmail/Rocketmail/Hotmail for the communications, but apart from some very light blogging and tweeting (as evidence by this neglected blog) I really could say I'm cyber-lite. I don't have such capabilities on my mobile telephone. I access the internet by a slightly more advanced version of dial-up or visit the local internet-enabled cafe (and use gallons of bandwith/electricity for a very reasonable 40p bottle of spring water). I never even text, let alone send photo messages - do you know how expensive they are?

So, when I learned that the one crucial site that I used LOADS was disappearing for no good reason, I was fuming.

I joined this petition. I grumbled to people lengthily. I was very sad. I had used my Google Reader account for as long as it had been available. I had stored there all my subscriptions to comics, blogs, job searches, news updates, etc. I thought it would last forever. I actually thought what a fun insight it would provide should I ever leave this mortal coil unexpectedly early, my nearest and dearest taking comfort in all the funny cartoons I enjoyed and serious political debate on which I kept tabs.

I knew that good ol' Google wouldn't be persuaded. Someone had mentioned the costs of keeping it alive and compared it to the revenue possible, but we GReader scamps weren't cross-posting or tweeting or blogging or promoting enough. We could have been punished another way. Make it slower. Fill it with ads. Do a YouTube and make us watch a commercial before we could get to the good stuff.

Instead there was just a steady reminder to back-up, download, collect and otherwise archive the information lovingly contained therein before the big power switch in the sky was turned off.

Resignedly I searched for alternatives. I tried Old Reader, but it didn't float my boat. I'm now using Feedly, but I'm still not convinced. I wanted more functionality for free, but maybe I'm just greedy.

I'm no longer angry. Strangely, it subsided pretty quickly. Feedly is now my go-to site after Facebook and my various email providers.

However, I'm beginning to think Google's Do No Harm promise is ringing hollow...

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