Et Tu, Google? (Google Reader screed ahead)

Ah, so, Google Reader.  It's going away in July 2013.

Yes, this is another rant decrying the shutdown of Google Reader.  However, it's my process for working through losing the app I've used every day since it was announced.  I mean that.  Every. Day.

I've used Google Reader so long, I don't remember what I used before it to read RSS feeds; I vaguely recall using NetNewsWire or some other installed application, but those never felt right.  Just as with email, the concept of sync'ing internet content to my PC never felt right.

I've gone on fasts;  I've been off facebook for years at a time, I've demurred and neglected twitter, but if I've had access to an internet-connected anything (PC, laptop, smartphone, Kindle), rest assured I was checking my feeds.

Why?  And why isn't twitter or something similar a good substitute?

Leaving aside twitter for a moment, the simple answer is speed and uniformity.  

Speed: Unlike most folks, the chrome and good design touches on those ultra-CMS'd sites out there make me want to die.  Seriously, when I go to TTAC.com and the pageload time is > 5 seconds, it kills me.  And that's....for.....each...article.

If I wanted to spend time to catch-up, I'd just read a frickin' newspaper, okay?

Uniformity: With Reader, I could scan headlines by the dozen, read 12 articles each morning, and process the volume of useless drivel high concept innovation coming out of silicon valley each day from my perch out here in flyover country.  I still firmly believe in tight English prose as a communication medium, and RSS boiled away the layers of DHTML, JS, CSS, and loud, layered images to a consistent format.

Look, I know Reader never monetized.  It probably never even paid for its own bandwidth, and I suppose reliance upon it kept many influencers/decision-makers away from the Golden Calf known as Google+.  "Bow down and worship our boil-the-ocean social media push," says Tommy Boy


Well, we're not buyin' it.  Maybe the Social Media Fairy's a glue sniffer, and sneaks into your house.  Suddenly $50 is missing from your wallet and you're daughter's knocked-up.  I've seen it a hundred times...

Ahem.  So, Google is choosing to sunset a product I never paid for.  That's its prerogative, certainly.  I understand, I'm not entitled to jack, since no money changed hands and their terms of use flatly state in subparagraph 314159 that they can do that at any time.

There are alternatives.  Currently, I'm evaluating Feedly, but it's....pretty.  It's attempting to be all Web 2.0.1, and I don't want that.  I like things that scrape content, render reasonable amounts of inline images, and STFU.  Per my software design principles, good software should disappear and let you focus on the task at hand, and Reader (prior to the last redesign anyway) did that fabulously.

Perhaps this is just a nail in the coffin of RSS overall, where I'll need to go to each site individually again just to read their 36px text and 70's fantastic graphics (TechCrunch, I'm looking at you).  Or maybe, I'll just read less online content.

So, on this St. Patty's Day, I pour one out for Reader as it slouches towards the bit bucket.   You shall be missed.

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