Why Google Killed Reader→

“As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process. Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day — replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day.”

I don’t like Google’s explanation for killing Google Reader.

Yes, Twitter and social media have changed how we consume news and internet posts. But the niche Google Reader and RSS serve is not about “leisurely” browsing of the internet over eggs and bacon.

By checking my RSS feed, I can skim and select from hundreds of stories from my favorite sites and authors in less than a minute.1

In contrast, Twitter and Facebook give me a random shotgun blast full of memes, links, and advertisements. I do not want to like or follow every public figure, author, or company that interests me and then have those people shit up my social feed. My social feed is just that, social. It shows me what other people think I should be reading, which is not always what I want to read.

I understand that RSS has always been a niche technology and that Google is probably making the right choice by focusing their efforts on more casual users. But I think Wired hits on a darker, potentially more accurate explanation for the change:

Now and Plus do one thing: They keep you in Google’s world. It’s a de-emphasis of content source. In other words, rather than reading Cat Fancy religiously, you’re reading the Animals category religiously — a category populated by the sites Google’s products think you’ll enjoy most.

  1. I can also subscribe to small sites and webcomics without worrying that I’ll miss their rare updates in my stream.