Google recently announced it is killing off several of its services, which it does from time to time. Really, that’s what any good company does; cut the dead weight.
Usually these announcements include a bit of “Awww, that’s too bad” and we move on with our day. This time though, Google cut services for a tool that isn’t just “popular.” Google Reader is the bedrock for how many people collect information on the Internet.
But is this just a sign of RSS feeds becoming a part of Internet Past?
Before Google announced they were shutting down Reader, I hadn’t looked at my feed in months, maybe a year, or more. What’s more, I hadn’t actively used it in at least two years. The reactions to this spanned from, “ERMAHGERD! GERRGLE IS KERLLING MAH NERZ!” to the San Jose Mercury News calling it a business opportunity. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve already guessed my reaction to the news was a giant “meh.”
This is mainly because Twitter has become my RSS feed over the last couple of years. As I said in that back and forth, I have imported all of my Google Reader stuff into Feedly, but … as opposed to what my buddy Nathan Burgess said about this being the first nail in the coffin for Google, I’ll propose a different coffin.
I think this could be the beginning of the end for the RSS feed.
An RSS feed is really just another stop I have to make in my daily intake of information. TweetDeck is constantly up in the background, and with the wide diversity of people I follow, I find more interesting articles than I could ever find on my own with an RSS feed.
If social media, and the Internet experience in general, is founded on groups, other people, and relationships, why are we still depending on ourselves to find all the news that’s relevant to us?
That’s not to say we shouldn’t be seeking out information on our own. As of this writing, I follow a bit more than 1,300 people. I follow CEOs, entrepreneurs, reporters, athletes, celebrities, college students, and many other types of folks. Each of those people have varying interests from mine and different networks.
There is no way I could ever match the richness of those information streams on my own, which is what an RSS feed requires.
The way we consume news has changed from when RSS feeds debuted.
Our networks are much more efficient at aggregating and gathering information relevant to us because they’re different from us. I find interesting tidbits on all sorts of topics every day that I never would have sought out on my own.
That’s why we connect with people anyway, right? They provide some kind of return. Maybe it’s a laugh, a different perspective, or insight into a particular topic. Call it a lack of self confidence if you want, but I believe my network is a better way of collecting information than simply me adding feeds to my RSS list.