Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wait a Minute, What?

One consequence of being mostly-offline over the past few days is that I am slow in getting up to speed on the Google Reader train wreck.  I certainly didn't like what I saw when I saw it, and Brian Shih convinces me that my worst fears have been realized.  Guess I didn't really notice until just now how much I (and, it seem, quite a few others) depend(ed) on Reader as the default one-stop (I can see in retrospect that it has become my idler-of-choice when I am, e.g, stuck in queue at the DMV).   Nothing else comes (or came) close.  E.g., I still don't get the point of Google Plus. Instapaper lies moribund. I do have an Evernote page but I haven't learned how to make it really useful.  I do have a Facebook presence but mostly to stalk grandchildren.

So far as I can tell, the transmogrificaion of Reader does mark the death of the "Shared Items" sidebar here at the blog.  No big deal; I suspect nobody ever looks at it but me.  Still, what's the point, or more pointedly, WTF?

[Idle afterthought: maybe the whole thing is a conspiracy of my friends who are fed up to hear with my carpet-bombing of "you might like this" links.  Update:  No, wait, I see I can still email them stuff.  Good.]

Life's too short to read all the howling about Reader, but here's a takeaway snippet from Shih's comment thread:
It seems pretty clear Google is now on the path of Microsoft and Yahoo where the middle managers have taken over and every change is based around some high level movement toward "consistency" across an increasingly conglomerate business.
 Update:I really didn't intend to return to this topic this soon but I must really try to scotch the canard (uttered this morning by Joshua Gans ) that Google Reader "is a free service so Google can do what they want."  Google Reader is not a "free service."  "Free service" implies that we are users or customers.  We are neither. We are, as someone (Timothy Wu?) said, "inventory"--Google provides this opportunity on the (perfectly rational) premise that they can exploit us to make money off of us.  Hey, a deal is a deal and I entered into this bargain with my eyes open.  But to treat it a an act of Google charity does not pass the giggle test.


jkpaulsen said...

I agree with everything you say, and would add that sharing was the best feature. When you shared an item through reader, it was there for followers to look at or not, as they chose. There was no spamming of e-mail inboxes. Sharing in Google+ forces your shared items on everyone instead, much like the old spam e-mails.

dilbert dogbert said...

Consistency that Hobgoblin of some people's little minds.
I used to read TPM frequently, everyday, then it got to be like a newspaper with consistency. I enjoy reading the writings of Underbelly and the like to get an individual take on the world - not consistency. Idiosyncratic maybe is more of what I like.

Ken Houghton said...

What jkpaulsen Said. Sharing was valuable, so of course it had to go.

If Reader is a "free service," so are all those "Classic Rock" radio stations that make having a CD player (or whatever the modern equivalent is) essential for driving in a car.

Before Google, there was Netscape. After Google, there will be something that understands that going from the FT to USA Today is not a gain in the "information industry."