As long-standing blogger I have also been very interested in the news readers that make it easy to keep up with the output of others. My requirement has always been for an online system so that, as I check my feeds from different places I don’t end up wading through things I have already read. I spent time with a couple of different services (Rojo, Bloglines: both now closed down) before settling on Google Reader several years ago. Alas! Google have now announced that Reader is also due to shutdown this summer.
To be fair, I have not made much direct use of Google Reader for some time now. I discovered a service called Feedly, which used Google Reader as an engine but provided an enhanced interface. There were a number of sites that worked in this way. Perhaps Google has got fed up of people using its systems without it getting the direct page hits although it could have helped matters by keeping Reader on its cross-site menu rather than options like News (“official” news sites rather than the freedom to pick your own feeds).
There are a couple of silver linings to the cloud. Firstly, kudos to Feedly, who have plans in place to seamlessly transfer all accounts to its own back-end systems, which means I should be covered. Also, it is possible that the demise of some of the other contenders was due to Google’s offering being such a giant in the playground. As it withdraws it may either mean that the art of site-feeding withers away or, more positively, that other players start to innovate more.
Above all though, it is a reminder of the relative impermanence of the Internet and the danger of putting too many eggs in the Google basket.