Saturday, March 16, 2013

Excuse me, I was using that: Google Reader

The irony that I found out of the planned shut-down of Google Reader through blogs I read on Google Reader was not lost.

To say I am grumpy about Google's decision to shut down one of their services that I use daily is to put it mildly. Sure, I don't pay for it (but I would, to keep it), it is their's to do what they wish and nothing online is really forever - but that doesn't mean I am just going to sigh and move on. For a start - move on to what? It seems nothing currently available will work in the same way as I currently use it.

So how do I use it?

Blog following - this is my number one use. I follow more than 400 blogs and subscribe to more all the time - using the RSS subscribe feature on most blogs is easy and I have it default to Google Reader. Whatever my current or ongoing interests, there are people blogging about it and I use this like a perpetual magazine of things I want to read about. With the app on my tablet (also my phone and even my android camera!) as well as online via whatever computer I am using, I can pick up wherever I left off and take my reading list wherever I go - like waiting rooms, my bed, coffee shops and on breaks at work. I empty my news feed most days and when life has been busy, I always have a delicious backlog to catch up on. On the computer, I have the NEXT button installed on my toolbar in Chrome and I can just click through, getting the full blog experience. With the app, I can swipe through reading full posts (preferably) without clicking through to the browser, (although many bloggers are now truncated their posts to prevent piracy, meaning I either click through or move on, depending on the engagement of that first paragraph.)

News feed - I follow the news via Google Reader. Mainly ABC Australia, this is how I keep up with what is happening in the world. yes, I also subscribe to their Twitter and Facebook and have the app on my tablet, but for the most, I have seen all the days news before I switch on the TV broadcast at 7pm.

Alerts - this is possibly the feature I would miss most, as it is the hardest to replace. Google alerts allow me to enter whatever word or phrase I want to hear about - eg "breastfeeding" "project life" "multiple sclerosis" and automatically, any blog post, news article or web-page update using those terms comes directly to me.The breastfeeding news is especially important and usually the source of news/articles I go on to share on Facebook ... using the convenient "share" button in both Chrome and the Reader apps. That means a lot to people who follow my news feed and go on to share.

Google says its decision is based on the fact not many people were using it. I don't know about that, but I know I was using it! And so were a lot of other people, judging by the explosion of comment across the web after the announcement and even leaking out into the "real world" - my daughter heard of it via mainstream commercial radio news!

I am a heavy-user of Google products - Chrome, Gmail, Google Calendar, Picasa, Reader, Drive, Play, Maps ... and Blogger!! but although I have a Google+ account, I don't really use it. My life is embedded in Facebook and I am not interested in doubling-up (unless it was automated!). I am an Android user on devices and like the fact that Google seamlessly interacts with that and carries my life into the mobile and cloud worlds. Surely I am someone Google wants to cultivate and keep happy? My cynical son says they don't care a fig about users, just advertising dollars, which is true, but I care that they don't care!!!

It seems likely that someone is frantically developing the "Google Reader that is't called Google Reader" as I write and we will all grumble, export our feeds and move on. But for the record - I WAS USING THAT!!!

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