Google has announced the deadpooling of Google Reader:
Urs Hölzle, Official Blog: A second spring of cleaning
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.
Google Reader established — along with Bloglines, shut down in 2010 — the paradigm of ‘blog post inbox’.
I never liked being a ‘RSS readerer’, stuck in an always overfilled inbox of posts shouting ‘Read me!’ As a result, although I have a Google Reader account, I haven’t been there in years.
The biggest alternatives that have pulled me away from any consideration or active use of RSS have been Twitter and Tumblr.
“Twitter ushered in the shift to our social networks as ‘engines of meaning’ and a rejection of the mechanistic, steampunk, media plumbing model.”
Twitter has become my primary source of linkage. The big shift here has been the transition to following people as curators, instead of following blogs. Twitter ushered in the shift to our social networks as ‘engines of meaning’ and a rejection of the mechanistic, steampunk, media plumbing model. And RSS is going, along with it.
For a long time I intentionally limited my Twitter follows to under 500, then under 1000, and I tried to step into the stream frequently to keep my feet wet. I adopted the ‘let it stream’ mindset, which means that I never felt it necessary to read all tweets, anymore than its necessary to look out of all the windows in my house.
Flipboard has shifted my Twitter use drastically. I now rely on a Flipboarded experience of Twitter, and hardly ever directly read my incoming Twitter stream, and so I can let the number of folks that I follow rise past the point of productively ‘following’. I respond to stuff that floats to the surface at Flipboard’s Twitter experience, but not the stuff below that. I also use the meager 20 lists that Twitter allows me for topical searching for things from the inner circle of contacts. And my Twitter client is open on ‘interactions’ all day.
[Why doesn’t Twitter buy Flipboard, by the way?]
The second — and just as profound — transition away from RSS and from the archaic ‘blogosphere’ for me has been Tumblr. Tumblr’s open follower model creates a user experience that is at least ten times better — maybe 100 times better — than reading blog posts in an RSS reader. While I don’t agree with all the user experience decisions of Tumblr, the overall experience is awesome. The addition in recent years of curated ‘topics’ has ratcheted up the value to me, considerably. I just wish that there was a general mechanism for ‘following’ non-Tumblr information sources in Tumblr. Tumblr had — once upon a time — an RSS import capability, but it just doesn’t work reliably (see Fossilized Tumblr Feature: Importing Via RSS). Still, most media companies have taken it upon themselves to create a Tumblr account and to post abridged ’tumbles’ of stories on their official sites, so an informal, tumbled social fabric covers most everything I care to connect to.
So, RSS is being phased out through disuse, and the dominance of the open follower motif embedded in social networks. The old RSS steampunk model is going away, and feels as old as the pneumatic tubes in Terry Gilliams’ Brazil.