July 3rd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

RSS MagazineThis isn’t an issue of “openness”, per se — Twitter, for instance, has very good reasons to limit its API. You aren’t entitled to unrestricted access to someone else’s service. Those days are gone for good, and we’ll all be fine. We don’t need big web players to be completely open.

The bigger problem is that they’ve abandoned interoperability. RSS, semantic markup, microformats, and open APIs all enable interoperability, but the big players don’t want that — they want to lock you in, shut out competitors, and make a service so proprietary that even if you could get your data out, it would be either useless (no alternatives to import into) or cripplingly lonely (empty social networks).

Google resisted this trend admirably for a long time and was very geek- and standards-friendly, but not since Facebook got huge enough to effectively redefine the internet and refocus Google’s plans to be all-Google+, all the time.4 The escalating three-way war between Google, Facebook, and Twitter — by far the three most important web players today — is accumulating new casualties every day at our expense.

Google Reader is just the latest casualty of the war that Facebook started, seemingly accidentally: the battle to own everything.5 While Google did technically “own” Reader and could make some use of the huge amount of news and attention data flowing through it, it conflicted with their far more important Google+ strategy: they need everyone reading and sharing everything through Google+ so they can compete with Facebook for ad-targeting data, ad dollars, growth, and relevance.

RSS represents the antithesis of this new world: it’s completely open, decentralized, and owned by nobody, just like the web itself. It allows anyone, large or small, to build something new and disrupt anyone else they’d like because nobody has to fly six salespeople out first to work out a partnership with anyone else’s salespeople.

Read the full article @ Marco.org.

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July 3rd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Google Reader LogoIt was later that year when a Google colleague challenged Wetherell to construct an Atom parser in Javascript. Atom was yet another XML language, and the dare called on Wetherell to expand on his old passion project. If successful, he would have “something that turns something into something else which could be used to represent data that was basically about cat photos,” as he transliterated for the layman. The parser worked. One night, while testing and debugging, Wetherell had a Frankenstein moment. “A little wheel reinvention occurred,” he recalled, “as a square. The parser became a reader by accident.” Most of the time, software developers write additional code to describe complex data. By a stroke of luck, Wetherell’s reader actually bypassed a layer of complexity. Wetherell designated the creation as his 20% project. In a pitch meeting, he drew a circle on a whiteboard, and wrote below it: “Feed reading is inherently polymorphic.” The kind of RSS reader Wetherell envisioned would be “athletically flexible to match a wide variety of reading styles.” He drew spokes out from the circle to delineate the different use cases he imagined. Finally, his colleagues said, “OK, then.” Work on “Fusion” — the prototype for what became Google Reader — would begin.

Read the full story @ Buzzfeed.com.

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July 2nd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Google Listen was the android app I used to listen to podcasts on my phone. Unfortunately, it synced with Google Reader to track which podcasts you were subscribed to. Yeah, well guess how well it works now…

CLARIFICATION: You can still find the program available in the Play store. But when I tried to update my feeds this morning it completely failed to do so. So, I do guess I’m making some sort of assumption here about it’s death, but in the end it’s dead to me.

Google Listen

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July 2nd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Wow, I guess I should have seen this coming but I still don’t get it. Google killed Google Reader but it also killed RSS delivery of Google Alerts. Hello, Google? What is the logic behind this short of just trying to kill RSS?

Here’s what I saw in Feedly this morning:

Google Alerts - No More RSS 1

When I got to Google Alerts I say this:

Google Alerts - No More RSS 2

I clicked the CHANGE ALL button and now have this:

Google Alerts - No More RSS 3

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March 25th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

The Economist LogoThe Economist has yet another wonderful article about the larger issues surrounding Google shutting down Reader:

Google has asked us to build our lives around it: to use its e-mail system (which, for many of us, is truly indispensable), its search engines, its maps, its calendars, its cloud-based apps and storage services, its video- and photo- hosting services, and on and on and on. It hasn’t done this because we’re its customers, it’s worth remembering. We aren’t; we’re the products Google sells to its customers, the advertisers. Google wants us to use its services in ways that provide it with interesting and valuable information, and eyeballs. If a particular Google experiment isn’t cutting it in that category, then Google may feel justified in axing it.

But that makes it increasingly difficult for Google to have success with new services. Why commit to using and coming to rely on something new if it might be yanked away at some future date? This is especially problematic for “social” apps that rely on network effects. Even a crummy social service may thrive if it obtains a critical mass. Yanking away services beloved by early adopters almost guarantees that critical masses can’t be obtained: not, at any rate, without the provision of an incentive or commitment mechanism to protect the would-be users from the risk of losing a vital service.

Read the full article @ TheEconomist.com.

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March 25th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

I’m vaguely understanding this but I would love to actually have some details on exactly what privacy “issues”Google Reader Logo

Google said earlier this month it would close its Reader service because of low usage, but a report says the company also killed the RSS platform because it did not want to commit a full staff to it to ensure the service complied with privacy laws.

After having to agree to multi-million dollar settlements with government agencies, Google Chief Executive Larry Page has been adding lawyers, policy experts and others to each of its teams who can deal with compliance and privacy issues, a report by AllThingsD says.

But that was something Google was unwilling to do for Reader, which didn’t even have a product manager or a full-time engineer working on it, the report says.

Read the full article on latimes.com.

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March 20th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Sign all the petitions you want, I’m getting the feeling Google’s pretty serious about this one.

Google is shutting down Google Reader on July 1 and to say that quite a few people are unhappy about this move would be an understatement. Today, Google Reader moved one step closer to its grave as Google is now quietly removing links to it from the black menu that graces the top of virtually every core Google product. Google Reader itself, of course, is still available for the time being.

Read the full article on TechCrunch.

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March 17th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

I was just pointed toward The Old Reader as a possible Google Reader replacement. Although at first glans it doesn’t support folders, which is a must for me, I figure I’ll give it a try. I’ve submitted my OPML file for importation. I wonder how long this is going to take…

Screenshot (57)

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March 16th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Has Google got it out for RSS?

Oh Google. Thought we wouldn’t notice that you’re trying to kill off not just Google Reader, but also your support and endorsement for the RSS format itself? People have just started noticing that Google’s own RSS Subscription Chrome browser extension has disappeared from the Google Chrome Web Store. Though it’s unclear at this time exactly when the extension was removed, the change appears to be recent.

But now the extension is gone, and the message is clear: Google is getting out of the RSS business. It’s more than Google just shutting down a product that never gained mainstream traction and moving resources elsewhere – it’s about distancing itself from the RSS community as a whole.

Read the full article @ TechCrunch.

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March 15th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

2013-03-15 08.19.44Dude, yes, that’s an RSS pillow on a chair in my office. I love RSS and I believe that RSS still matters, as does Dieter Bohn:

RSS is built so deeply into the bones of so many websites and web services that we take it for granted. Your Tumblrs and your YouTube users and your Flickr friends and your favorite websites and blogs all usually offer RSS, automatically, with very little effort from their developers. It matters for the web that websites have a structured way to send their data out to apps and to other websites. Many of the apps that are suggested as a viable replacement for Google Reader — Flipboard comes to mind — pull just as much from RSS as they do from social feeds. More importantly, they pull from RSS freely, but they pull from Facebook and Twitter only because those companies let them.

Read the full article on The Verge.

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