Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 14, 201310:20 PM

End Of Blogs

I love my blog. I love your blog. I love blogs.

Call me old-fashioned. Loving blogs has nothing to do with me not loving the newer stuff. I love Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other places to publish, share and connect too, but I have a soft spot for blogs. It was a punch in the gut yesterday to read this tweet from Gina Trapani: "Wow, Google Reader shutting down. It really IS the end of blogging and old school newsreaders. Watch for 'Subscribe in Google+.'" So, am I supposed to forget about this blog and just post what I'm thinking about on Google+ or Facebook or tumblr or whatever? It got me down to find out that Google has decided to stop the service of Google Reader (you can read more about it here: Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator Chris Wetherell reflects).

Confession time.

I was a die-hard user and evangelist for Google Reader. So much so, that I encouraged everyone I met to use Google Reader as a way to stay on top of the best blogs and even manage Google Alerts (if you don't want to fill up your inbox). It is the first tab when I open my web browser (which is Google Chrome). It is filled with hundreds (maybe thousands) of blogs, websites and more that provide me with a curated view of what's most important to me to do my job better. I haven't looked at Google Reader in months. Maybe longer. What happened? By connecting to the right people in places like Twitter and Facebook, all of you have - essentially - become a way better engine of curation. If something is really important, you tweet it or post it on Facebook or Google+, and the information comes to me. Since I'm confessing here, email has also become a powerful way to keep me informed. I subscribe to many e-newsletters (like Mashable, MediaPost and more) that provide me with a quick glance into what's going on. So, as much as I love Google Reader, recommend it and think it's a great tool, I don't really use it.

This isn't the end of blogs.

From what I can gather, Google Reader was a very niche product. It was great for me, maybe great for you and a bunch of journalists and media folks, but the general public never latched on the the magic that is RSS. Once Mark Zuckerberg and the crew at Facebook, turned all of our individual profile pages into a newsfeed and put RSS behind the curtain, RSS disappeared out of our zeitgeist and into a line of code that social platforms use to pull information from one page of content to another. The original power of blogging wasn't really in the ease of publishing, it was in the power to subscribe to a blog and be notified when a blogger updated their space. RSS was the next generation of newsfeed, and it was a key driver in making blogging popular and accessible. So, in one sense, Trapani is right: old school newsreaders may have been replaced by things like Flipboard and others, but this better not be the end of blogging.

Please don't stop the blogging.

For my dollar, blogging isn't about RSS, newsreaders or any of that stuff. Blogging is this: the ability for anybody to have a thought and publish that thought - in text (supported by images, audio, video and whatever) - instantly and for free for the world to share. My fear is that when Google Reader goes and Feedburner could be next (which has been on a deathwatch), that it diminishes the ways in which people can find, share and add to this type of content. Blogs are important. This isn't the end of blogging. That being said, I am curious to know how people find and discover blogs? Are we truly in the day and age when if you're not on Twitter at a specific time to see a specific tweet about a single blog post, that blogging suddenly becomes the sound of a tree falling in the forest? I hope not. In the meantime, Mashable offers this up: Check Out These Google Reader Alternatives.

What's you take? Is this the end of blogging or is Google Reader simply not a viable business?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by John
    Mitch Joel

    Love the irony here... Your post just showed up in Google Reader on my central panel on iGoogle. Really must update my workflow...

    RSS is brilliant, I funnel my Google Alerts, Twitter searches and well over 100 feeds into Reader. This is where I see stuff when as as it happens.

    Oh well...

    Reply
    • Posted by Muskie
      Mitch Joel

      Twitter long ago announced they're dropping support for RSS from version 1.1 of their API, so another prong of your Internet monitoring strategy is set to be taken away.

      There are workarounds, Topsy used to provide RSS feeds of Twitter searches, they still do but you have to pay. I posted some PHP code to my blog which is another workaround.

      Reply
  • Posted by Eden Spodek
    Mitch Joel

    Blogs aren't going anywhere any time soon. Unfortunately, Google Reader is going away but there seem to be some interesting alternatives and opportunistic companies ready to attract a new audience. I've been testing out feedly today. I like the more visual interface although it's not as easy to do a quick scan with feedly as it is with Google Reader. Maybe I'm being too optimistic but we could end up with a better RSS reader in the end.

    Reply
  • Posted by @DavidRFrank
    @DavidRFrank

    I use google reader the the Reeder App. I've tried adding many of my blogs on twitter or google+ but there isn't the same consistency and organization of content. Too many of the alternatives are heavy on the vsiauls and for me, I love my current set up for the lack of visual components.

    Reply
  • Posted by Marko Saric
    Mitch Joel

    I've been decreasing my reader use in recent year or so as well - mostly taking my subscriptions over to following those bloggers on Twitter instead. I think this is the move bloggers have to take now in terms of content distribution - after Google Reader/Feedburner shut down, the RSS will become even less popular way of reading blogs so even more focus has to be spent on getting in social media and creating a following there. Long live blogging!

    Reply
  • Posted by Joseph Ratliff
    Mitch Joel

    I highly doubt that blogging is going anywhere just because Google is ending Reader. Although, with the support Google Reader seems to have gotten, it might come back.

    Until then, there are other feed readers.

    And, Evan Williams is behind Medium now... and I doubt he would have Founded that if he thought blogging was dead.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mark Nicholson
    Mitch Joel

    Google used to have all kinds of things going on in labs. A few years ago they started scaling to focus. Now they make self driving cars, mobile phones, and there's Glass. Reader will be missed and I also was an advocate. The only logical reason I can think of as to why they might shut it down is it wasn't monetized and operating costs didn't justify continuing it. There's a few wordpress aggregators that give you an AllTop look (I think one is called Accumulo) but they lack the simplicity of Reader.

    Reply
  • Posted by Doug Hadden
    Mitch Joel

    Social is what social does. This shows a lack of social engagement by Google who seem to be tied to the broadcast era. More at: http://www.freebalance.com/blog/?p=3929

    Reply
  • Posted by Liam
    Liam

    I'm mad as hell at Google for retiring Reader. I suspect the real reason Reader is being killed off isn't because Google+, Facebook, Twitter, et al. do a better job as Mitch suggests. No. The real reason is likely because Google can't find a way to successfully monetize Reader to its benefit. Goes to prove you should never rely on one company (especially online/technology) for everything or perhaps anything.

    As for all the Reader alternative suggestions ... they all stink. Period.

    Reply
    • Posted by Muskie
      Mitch Joel

      Google also owns the Blogger platform and Blogspot. I'm not a fan and have been a WordPress user since 2005, Blogger still has millions of users too.

      Google will never take all that content down if for no other reason than they can display ads beside it. So Google is not anti-blogging though and others like Twitter prefer you use their official API rather than an open standard like RSS. Google actually prefers Atom to RSS if you've ever looked at the GData and YouTube Data APIs.

      Reply
  • Posted by Josh
    Mitch Joel

    Many of us never used Google Reader or relied upon RSS for reading so Google Reader never was a part of our daily routine and consequently has no impact upon us.

    I have always preferred to go straight the blog to read or to rely upon email.

    Reply
    • Posted by Muskie
      Mitch Joel

      I subscribe to many RSS feeds on my laptop and use NewsFire to sort them myself intelligently. I have however used Pulse and other services that have a "best of" feed or feeds. I also use Twitter for breaking news and to augment my RSS reading. I've even built specialty news aggregators similar to POPURLs and AllTop.

      Reply
  • Posted by Danny Brown
    Mitch Joel

    Google Reader is but one option to receive blogs. The bigger issue I saw with it is it got left behind by the mobile revolution. People consume content far differently now, which is why services like FlipBoard have become so popular.

    Blogs will remain - they just need to keep up with the changing landscape. Although, truth be told, I was never a fan of RSS - I keep up to date with blogs I really want to read by email, and use saved streams in Hootsuite to get updates on others.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Honestly I barely look at my Reader, haven't in forever; for the longest time, I forgot to add/subscribe via RSS - oft b/c I did so by some other social means. Danny's right about mobile, the changes in how we consume information. Via Zite or Flipboard or many other apps, I can better organize and curate what I read.

    Don't think the end of Reader means the end of blogging in any way. It's just a tool, one way to subscribe and read content. I'd wager they'll be a few companies ready to step in fill the void, offer some Reader-esque product. FWIW.

    Reply
  • Posted by Alessia
    Mitch Joel

    I'm a maniac for checking twitter to read everything not to miss out on any link. I never had Google Reader, maybe I was too lazy to try to discover how it worked. I developed an ability to scan content to see what is worth reading with attention this way.

    Reply
  • Posted by Eric
    Mitch Joel

    I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I've been using feedly for a long time now. I look forward to the seamless transition :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Muskie
    Mitch Joel

    Blogging won't die. It is just a re-imagining of Tim Berners-Lee original concept of the home page. Instead of everyone learning HTML and hand coding their home page back in the early 90s various people create content management systems to make posting your thoughts and opinions online easier.

    Corporations have always wanted you to choose their webpage as your "home page". There was My Yahoo, My Excite, long before the phrase "online social network" entered the lexicon. Some people are all too willing to cede control of their online identity to corporations. AOL, Google, Facebook all tried to keep you on their website as long and as often as possible. Then they can study your habits and figure out a better way to market to you via Adwords and other ad targeting technologies.

    Some people will always not want to be controlled by corporations and will publish their thoughts and ideas outside the mainstream. Blogging, traditional blogging will become more underground. Tumblogging seems to be popular with young people, but most Tumblogs are not original thought, instead just repeating some image someone else posted.

    Blogging was good for literacy, Tumblogging not so much. Blogging was good for the Internet, competing corporate social network fiefdoms not so much.

    Reply
  • Posted by Muskie
    Mitch Joel

    My original comment seems to have not been posted though I left it yesterday. My quick replies typed in my iPhone this morning seem to have immediately appeared. Shame about my original comment...

    Reply
  • Posted by Rudee Garrett
    Mitch Joel

    I don't thing blogs aren't going anywhere any time soon even if Google Reader is going away. Google tried to do what they can to be ahead of everyone. The problem is that we rely on Google for everything which has given them the power. We use wordpress. By the way I found your blogs through another blog that was raving about your accomplishments.

    Reply
  • Posted by Maureen Ogle
    Mitch Joel

    Oh, thanks for this! If one more person/site tells me blogging is dead, I'm gonna start screaming.

    All I can tell from those "BID" people is that they thought the ONLY purpose of a blog was to sell something. And those of us who blog know that its value has nothing to do with selling.

    Again, thanks.

    Reply
  • Posted by GP
    Mitch Joel

    Google Reader is dead? Who cares, anyway.
    Don't stop the blogging: "I've got nothing to say and I'm saying it." (John Cage)

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Great post. Thank you for sharing. Since google reader is gone, what's your thought or feedback on feedly or any third party tools?

    Reply
  • Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are, like Zite or Prismatic, great tools to find new content: whatever gets more likes/tweets/+1/pins etc. is going to reach you sooner or later.

    But I find that to follow an specific source, RSS is still the best way. Posts on social media get lost, surrounded by tons of pictures and comments that might hide what is really interesting for you. But the RSS reader is there waiting for you.

    Also, I find RSS great to have a quick look at everyday news: just create a folder with the news sites that you trust and you can scan what happened all around the world from one single site.

    BTW, I moved to feedly and so far I'm quite happy.

    Reply
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    Mitch Joel

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