Google Reader and the death of the open web

Well fuck. Google kills google reader.

Some random points:

This is upsetting because I use the damn thing a lot, as @bobdc says:

At some point RSS became synonymous with Google Reader, now Google tells me that although it to me seems like “everyone” uses Reader, this is because I have geek friends, and “normal” people have no idea Google Reader exists. It is safe to say, that these normal people have even less idea that RSS/Atom exists and that there are choices outside of Google Reader.  If not the last nail in the coffin for RSS, it certainly the BIG nail that made it impossible to pry open the coffin again. (It was already clear that RSS was geeky-poweruser only when Twitter killed the Atom feeds last year). Even if there now may be a market for NEW RSS Readers, and maybe even some innovation in that space, it wont matter any more, since people will just stop publishing RSS feeds.

RSS was probably the last standards driven eco-system where real integration of stuff happened in ways people probably didn’t foresee. I am sad to say so, but I cannot see FOAF pop up to kill the big social networks any time soon. OpenID became “sign-in with Google / Facebook / Yahoo” and the places where I can type in my OWN OpenID URL is again only hard-core tech places. OAuth2 is a mess where there is a Google version and a Facebook version, and interop is on paper only. We lost the open web and now we have APIs to a nice corporate sanitize social network.

As web-archaeologists well know, RSS was initially RDF based (RDF Site Syndicate, before it became Real-Simple). Now, look at your Facebook feed, there is clearly some sort of “ontology” here, there are basic updates, essentially just some text, but then there are updates with pictures, updates with youtube videos. There are updates where actions are possible: invites to parties, invites to terrible games, invites to share you birthday! apps, etc. Wouldn’t it have been cool if we kept an RDF extensible version of RSS, then I could have published my extensions to RSS items somewhere, if your client didn’t support it, it would fall back on default rendering, giving you just a URL, but if you had the right widget, you would get a richer representation of the thing (and these days maybe even I could publish it with some JavaScript snippet to render the widget, like Twitter does with the twitter widget I embedded above) … old semantic web dreams never die – they just get covered in a layer of cynicism!


  1. First!

    And pretty sure nobody will read this comment, as it is not a facebook comment

  2. This reminds of a joke made in another community that’s more “mature” than the web and has long ago reached a stage where 5 corporations own 99% of the general public and decide if you’re “in” or “out”.

    Two jazz musicians meet on a street.
    – Hey! I just bought your latest CD!
    – Ah, it was you…

  3. ok, this was one of the last unread items in google reader. I didn’t check too often…

    BUT now I need a replacement. Checking out and thinking about alternatives. any ideas?

  4. works like a charm. very minimal. but works. didn’t set up the cronjob yet, but will go for it now a few weeks…

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