Yesterday, Google informed the world that their product, Google Reader, was going to end on July 1st. And, yeah, it sort of pissed off a lot of people. It didn’t piss off the majority of people because the majority of people don’t use an RSS reader. Some people don’t even know what an RSS reader is. But the difference between people who use RSS and people who don’t is the difference between people who read the news and keep up with it and people who don’t. Most Americans don’t pay attention to the news. That’s a problem.
First, there’s a difference between “news” and “crap that is posted on a Timeline.” Yesterday, I asked my students who was the Secretary of State. Three out of the 25 knew. These are 17 to 23 year olds. Do I think knowing who is the Secretary of State is an important fact? I do. But not many other people care. No one posted who the new Secretary of State is on a social network, so they don’t care. This isn’t me making fun of my students. I can almost promise you that most people don’t know who the new Secretary of State is. Those that do know are the ones who have a robust Google Reader account with dozens, maybe hundreds, of feeds pumping in news. With a good RSS reader, you can organize the news how you want, save it, move it to folders, share it, whatever. Facebook could do this, but only in a way that highlights the atheistic of the news presentation (how it looks), not the content. And Twitter is designed as a real-time feed of noise. It’s noise you want, but it’s still noise. You can’t realistically use a social network to give you proper news. But, that’s my point. Most people don’t want proper news. They just want, well, they have no idea. If this wasn’t true, more people would be using Google Reader and it wouldn’t be going down like the Titanic in a few months.
Lately, I’ve understood that I’m getting older and the things I find good are slowly becoming old fashioned. I hate this, but that’s the way the world works. The young push while the old remember how they used to push, and find this new pushing inadequate. I’m not impressed by the young, for many reasons. Part of me thinks that the moving away from RSS is a mistake, one that will linger around. I listen to vinyl, too. I find it a superior way to listen to music. It’s unyielding and cumbersome But it sounds better to me and I like the experience. I never thought anything about the Internet would be aged out and only be used by the hardcore. Google Reader is more a reflection of my disdain for “new” and “different” and less a business strategy.