When I opened Google Reader Wednesday night and saw a pop-up message announcing that Google would retire the service on July 1, I actually gasped and felt dizzy.
Reader is Google’s feed-reading service, which is a way of following blogs and other Web sites. Most sites offer a feed in a format called RSS, which has been around for almost 20 years as a way for Web sites to say, “Hey! I have new content here!” Feed readers allow others to subscribe to those updates, so they don’t have to keep visiting the Web site to check for new content.
RSS and feed readers are simple and work really well, but they haven’t caught on beyond the geek crowd. We geeks love RSS and feed readers, and Google Reader was probably the most popular choice. But most non-geeks follow their blogs in other ways, such as via Twitter and Facebook. WordPress.com, which hosts this blog, offers a “follow” feature that delivers new blog posts right to your e-mail inbox. Geeks are in the minority on the Internet now, and apparently Google wants to invest its resources on products that get wider use.
There are other Web-based feed readers out there. I will find one, switch to it, and eventually get used to how it works; life will go on. But meanwhile, I’m actually going through the stages of grief! At the moment I’m in denial, hoping that Google is listening to the groundswell of protest against this move and is thinking about reversing their decision.