Pour Some Out for the Sites That Aren’t Here ➝

Tim Carmody, on the death of Google Reader:

It had a lightweight social graph component, but it was really oriented around news and stories and blog updates that people shared. Everything that people wanted online comments to be, Google Reader was. And when it ended, it took all of that away, leaving social media networks — which were really never designed to do content distribution — as the only game in town. I honestly don’t know if we’ve ever recovered.

The first RSS app I used was Google Reader and it felt like magic to me. I could throw a bunch of URLs at it and I’d be able to read my favorite sites without having to load all of their webpages individually. The technology had an incredible impact on me and I continue to use RSS today because of how easy Google Reader was to use.

It was a devastating blow to the online community when Google decided to shutter it. And I believe that decision was an enormous contributing factor to the downfall of the open web and the astronomical rise of social networks. Imagine how many more interesting and innovative things would be taking place on the web if everything didn’t have to get funneled into social networks in order to find an audience.

But the death of Google Reader was also a detriment to the confidence that some of us place in Google’s services. Ever since Reader’s demise I’ve made an effort to avoid using Google’s services wherever I can. In most instances, I’d rather pay for an alternative than risk Google getting bored or deciding that it’s no longer financially viable for them to continue supporting a service that I rely on.

There are a handful of exceptions — Google Photos, YouTube, and an old Gmail account, to name a few. But the number of Google services that I rely on has never been lower and I wouldn’t mind it being even less. I expect I’m not the only one who feels this way, too — there’s probably quite a few former Google Reader users out there that still feel burned by their decision to kill such a beloved service.