Technically this is software related but at the same time, it's hard to say it's really just software related anymore as certain changes become more and more of a question of people moving to the 2nd most popular choice rather than any true decision making.
It's safe to say everyone knew one way or the other, online services are going to change but how much it would change - I think that's the main difference the cloud differentiates itself from normal software.
Anyway the inspiration for this post was due to a jot
made by a Diaspora user.
Google plans to "Plusify" ReaderAlthough my previous post is probably the most important thing I will share all day, I did want to express my disappointment about this:
Official Google Reader Blog: Upcoming changes to Reader: a new look, new Google+ features, and some clean-up
Please note the following section:
We recognize, however, that some of you may feel like the product is no longer for you. That's why we will also be extending Reader's subscription export feature to include the following items. Your data belongs to you, after all, and we want to make sure you can take it with you.
Translation: we're going to shove Google+ down your throats, and if you don't like it, you can leave. Take your data and don't let the virtual door hit you on your way out.
For those who do not wish to click the Google blog link, which I totally understand, TechCrunch and Mashable are also covering the story:
TechCrunch: Google Reader Getting Overhauled, Removing Your Friends
Google Reader to Get Google+ Integration
Since beginning my efforts to become Google independent, I've been able to eliminate Docs, Analytics, and search; I've also significantly reduced my dependence on Gmail. However, I've looked hard and tested a lot of different RSS readers, and I haven't found a good replacement for Reader. I can't find that wiki page that listed Google alternatives at the moment, but I tried NetVibes, Pageflakes, FriendFeed, and, well, a lot of others.)
A while back, I posted a feature request on GetSatisfaction, asking that they build an RSS reader into Diaspora. It would significantly facilitate the ease of sharing news and information with others and, now, it seems a worthy rival to Reader is truly needed.
Please, if you'd like to see RSS integrated into Diaspora, go and comment on the GetSatisfaction thread.
What are you using to read RSS feeds?End Article
The specific news was non-notable to me. In fact I often hate the social features of Google Reader because it really confused me. It wasn't exactly copy pasting to Twitter nor would it automagically get an article sent to a blog draft that much I can tell.
What I found really bothered me though was that unlike other news of site changes before, the reason people have a hard time of finding alternatives now is due to the fact that we as users put Google Reader up to the pedestal that lead many major alternative blogging services to shut down.
Netvibes, Pageflakes, FriendFeed?! In the past these names would have been sacrilege to even mention as top online RSS Reader alternatives. It got to this point because unlike desktop software or even consumer product providers, the cloud is not just a list of service providers, the top product is designed as a customer demotivator.
Once people herd themselves towards Facebook, it's not as simple as convincing people to switch by providing a better service. People have built their homes (personal data) on Facebook. The same can be said for Google Reader. Even with export/import, APIs mean even for alternative providers once Google Reader becomes top dog it's much more to their advantage to leverage Google Reader than to build a Google Reader competitor. Even offline feedreaders fall prey to the all annoying Google Reader "sync that doesn't quite sync so you'll have to recheck anyway."
I think the worse bit about this story though is that even if a competitor provides the old GReader interface, how many will switch? How many will need to switch? (It's not like Google is completely shutting down Reader like they did with Notebook.) Most importantly, and I think this is key, the writer to my interpretation:My reply to their jot:Weird. I often found that Reader was intrusive in the past for adding social features (and the features were not really very clear) I think this is the 1st time I've heard of social complaints about err... social rehauling. If I'm not mistaken, the issue here is not so much rss readers but social sharing correct? Hmm... alot of rss services have died down since Reader became the de facto online rss reader... I'm not sure there are many who support sharing.
...is not looking for a feature that can be easily replicated in a desktop RSS Reader except if one provides Evernote for RSS. The idea of "network clusters" becomes more and more powerful as online services evolve. We're way past discovery of friends and strangers. Nowadays it's who only gets to hear our shouts in the vacuum of the internet and if you keep silent, you lose out on a lot of advantages an audience or a circle of friends bring. If you just keep shouting, you become slave to minor changes like what Google Reader plans on doing. It's a weird catch 22 and I don't think Google is doing anything horrible right now. (Certainly news of delicious shutting down in the past is arguably worse.) Truly what makes this scenario unique in fact is that Google is not doing anything major. At least not compared to any major breaking news. What Google is doing should really only be considered a minor changelog especially taking into consideration the actual bare needs of a RSS Reader. Yet because "social" is the forefront of many online services, pseudo-major issues like this are now legitimately possible to bother users who invested their time more on learning and adopting to a product than newbie users and after all that's been said and done, where are the true alternatives? They're mostly dead brands unless they become reborn. Unfortunately while these other alternatives are jockeying for this regrowth/timed release of a new service, major online brands like Google Reader just keeps sucking up and building user expectations and user migration while the name Google Reader continues to exist and becomes synonymous with RSS Readers, not just in features or in interface but in connectivity with a specific community that's also trapped inside those walled gardens.