Google Reader, Which I Never Did Use

Good Reader’s going away, to much sadness on the interwebs.

I’m going to out myself here….I never used Google reader, or any reader for that matter. I’m sure it says tons about me that I never could figure out the whole deal. I tried very hard with the whole RSS thing in the early years. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but I just always felt like the doof in the room, the one who was going to be gently taken aside after the Friday morning staff meeting and be informed that the acceptance letter went out by mistake, you know?

RSS feed example

This is what my earliest RSS explorations would produce on the screen. And I was supposed to do …. what next?

Looking back, I think it failed the whole “can I do this in one quick 30-second step” test that later seemed to win my loyalty to feedburner – direct to my email! Maybe Google Reader didn’t exist then, or maybe I started out with a bad reader experience, because if there’s one thing Google does do really well, it’s to keep things simple for the end user. But all it took was one baffling foray, and I was done. I survived early RSS by bookmarking things to death on the work PC. And then when I switched to my personal mac, magically, I was able to hit a button and get everything by email. (Yes, yes, I’m sure there was plenty of magic to be had on the PC, I just never stumbled across it….)

I totally get that a core group of users – who are loud enough that they’re making enough noise to generate coverage that Buzz and Wave (remember them?) never got – are really bummed. And yet I can see why Google wants to be done with the reader. There are so many other ways – and readers, for that matter – to get what you need, have been for years now. Neither lack of reader nor TV (unless it’s something massively important – the Mumbai attacks, Mubarak stepping down, that kind of important) has made any difference in being clued into the news of the day – whether or not it’s important or in my bubble.

I get some blogs delivered by email, but understand why that might not appeal – I’m not the only one who periodically ponders email bankruptcy or finds an empty inbox eventful enough to tweet about. But some of the biggest stories of the last few years came to me via Twitter. And if you find the Twitter a horrible firehose of “Gah! Make it stop!” – can’t blame you one bit – there’s always the Facebook. I’m convinced that long after people stop putting up anything about their kids on Facebook, it’ll stick around because it’s now such a great place to get news. Yes you have to wade through all the “I’m eating this now” and cat memes, but if it weren’t for Facebook, I’d probably forget to check a lot of news websites and never actually make it past the front page kluge that now serves far too many homepages.

This right here, is the smorgasbord for me as a consumer, and challenge as a consultant. And with that, I’m off to check out the other readers. It’s been a few years. Maybe the bafflement won’t be so immediate this time.