Google is doing some spring cleaning. In fact, they’re doing a lot of spring cleaning. As of July 1, Google Reader will be retired:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
I’m a big user of RSS feeds. I started using Awasu in… 2003? Plus or minus a year? This was during the first few years of Wil Wheaton’s blog. I used Awasu to keep up with his blog and a few others that I’d grown to like. It was an okay feed reader, but then I found FeedDemon, which I thought had a better interface. Eventually, FeedDemon had this feature that would sync feeds from the desktop to Google Reader. This was pretty darn awesome! Read blogs anywhere, read an article once, then mark it read. Never read the same article twice (unless you wanted to).
In 2011, Google removed the sharing feature in Google Reader. It allowed users to share articles with other users (kind of like what Google+ is now). This removal caused some users to seek out alternatives. Even though I wasn’t using this feature myself, I thought it was a good time to look at alternatives, also. This is when I found NewsBlur. This was also pretty darn awesome! It had a speedy interface and I could read feeds via mobile. It was so awesome, I became a subscriber, and move all my feeds from Google Reader to NewsBlur.
Now Google is going to be shutting down Reader for good. Makes me kind of glad that I moved over to NewsBlur when I did, because NewsBlur is experiencing a tremendous influx of users. The servers can’t keep up with the traffic, and downtime is expected in the days to come.
Some might say that the demise of Google Reader is a sign that RSS is dead. Let me tell you that RSS is most certainly not dead. It may not be as mainstream as Facebook and Twitter, but there is an audience (such as myself) who rely on RSS feeds to stay in the know. RSS is also the driving force behind many Yahoo! Pipes, including my own. There’s a reason the Facebook home page is called the News Feed. It was based on/inspired by RSS feeds, a.k.a. news feeds.
Right now, I have 63 feeds in NewsBlur. They include blogs of various topics, web comics, and local news. It would be impossible to keep up with all of them quickly and easily if I only used Facebook and Twitter. Too much information gets lost on social networks. With NewsBlur, nothing is lost… well, once the servers are back on a regular basis, nothing will be lost!