RIP Google Reader, Bring On Social News

If you use the Internet to curate all of your news, then chances are you’ve used an RSS Feed backed by Google Reader. In that case, you are then well aware that Google is nixing Reader during its yearly spring-cleaning purge. Often, apps that bring in no revenue or have long since been abandoned are what get the axe, not a popular application used by millions. The public outcry was instantaneous, all with one unified question: Why are you doing this to me?

For those who are still a little confused about what Google Reader is and the importance it had for many industries, it was the service offered by Google that aggregated specified content into a single web feed. This allowed users to scan articles and find pieces of relevant content quickly and efficiently. In March, Google announced the end of the service by July, with no replacement service to offer as of yet, or so it seems.

The last couple of years, social search and crowdsourcing have become more and more common in our everyday lives. Every blog and news provider has social channels––most likely multiple channels––it posts to. With Google’s constant attempts to breach the social scene, this shouldn’t be a surprising announcement. What is a surprise, however, is how many people are opposed to the idea of using social media as their sole news driver, even though it caters to personal preferences, niche markets, and like-minded attitudes. Sites like Twitter have every potential to operate like a newsfeed, with the added bonus of real-time debates and sharing abilities. But for some reason, our customary agents of change from the tech industry are shouting that they like things the way they are.

Which is ridiculous. Especially because everyone should have seen this coming. The Pew Research Center found that over 93 million of Facebook’s 133 million active users use the social network to read the news their friends and family share, while another 31 million of these users get their news from dedicated news providers. That was in 2011. That same report showed that, of all the users of Twitter––still climbing the ranks to become one of the popular kids in the social circle––36% used their friends as news sources, but 45% used accounts from established news sources pushing their own content.

I must reiterate. That was two years ago. Since then, Google has been pushing for Google+ to be better integrated into the everyday person’s social sphere, mostly to little success. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Reader pop up under a new guise in Google+, with the hopes of persuading people to use Google+ as their new RSS Feed/news aggregator. If you’re still in doubt, take a look at the last update Google Reader got in 2011. It was integration with Google+. Also two years ago.

This is not a shot in the dark, and it is almost certainly a very calculated move on the part of Google. Removing Google Reader is one move on the chessboard. Whatever Google plans on doing to remedy the current disappointment it dealt its loyal followers, you can be sure an answer will come before Google Reader cuts out for good.

Author: Zack Smith

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