Google has decided to end their Reader product that provided an interface to RSS. On the whole, it’s a good thing even though I’m unhappy that I have to change. I’m confident that something better will arrive so I will wait peacefully & patiently for the Internet to provide.
Take a deep breath nerds. The world isn’t ending, only evolving.
Why RSS ?
I highly recommend that all network engineers have an RSS reader and know how to use it. You can subscribe to vendor blogs, announcements, as well follow blogs like mine or the Packet Pushers. Each blog has an RSS URL that you subscribe to, and every time something is posted to their website I get a chance to learn something new.
It’s also good reminder that applications and services will reach end of life. While I could wish that Microsoft (bloody) Word would reach end of life this week, not all bad applications disappear. Equally not all good applications (Palm Pilot) survive. What important is to accept that the only constant is change. 
Cloud services are different to dedicated apps. Cloud services are closed or modified to someone else’s agenda or schedule. That’s the hidden disadvantage of cloud services and the “devils choice” that IT Managers make.
For example, when major UK reseller and data centre provider 2e2 went into liquidation customers were forced into making business decisions about IT at short notice. If you own your data centre building and facilities, you can plan better for upgrades and moves. For software, the vendor can be out of business but still usable and allow for smoother replacement.
If you don’t like marching to the beat of someone else’s drum, then don’t use the cloud. Right ?
When Google released Reader, it replaced a number of commercial services, and displaced many companies. It also enhanced a lot of applications.
Perhaps the biggest impact was on News Readers like NetNewsWire and Reeder – these applications use Google Reader as a database of news feeds. Today, I mostly use Reeder on the Mac / iPhone / iPad. Occasionally I return to NetNewsWire – it’s got some features that I enjoy but Reeder is much slicker.
After reading an item, I mark it as read. Next time I use any other news reader, they will also know that I have read that item. It’s the syncing that has made RSS readers so useful.
What’s Next for me
I can always download an OPML list of subscriptions from Google Reader and load the list into NetNewsWire and run RSS database locally from my Mac without syncing. My world isn’t going to end, it might be a bit less comfortable than I am used to, but I will still get my RSS feeds when I need them. Worst case, no longer able to to sync RSS status is probably good for my training to focus:
You could consider something like NetVibes:
or feedly (Ethan Banks’ reader of choice)
Or you could even use DEVONthink Pro (my preferred knowledge management tool ) to be an RSS Reader as described in this article.
But I’m doing none of those thing.
I think of RSS as an Application Program Interface (API). There is a lot of interest in APIs as a way to exchange data and software tooling to support RSS is far more common than 5 years ago. Yes, that’s a cloud thing. The world has a lot more software now compared to five years ago.
And better tools and testing too.
Lots of venture capital/people/startups/want to build platforms. It’s quite fashionable these days. And building an RSS reader platform has value for a business that is smaller than Google. They are focussed on shooting for the moon and RSS syncing appears to be small & insignificant by comparison.
Also, if you are a blogger and use Feedburner for RSS subscribers, it’s time to consider changing your setup. I’ll be working on this over the next few weeks to stop new subscribers using Feedburner.
The EtherealMind View
It’s my belief that something, someone, somehow will move into the gap that has been created – most likely a smaller company with an interest in news readers.
Instead of rushing of to find new services (that are probably overloaded with new customers) , I’m just going to wait a couple of months to see what happens. No big deal. Deep breath. Lets just calm down and take some time to see what happens. Four months is a long time in the cloud.
- The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. — Isaac Asimov ↩