(Gratuitous recycled button image, just because I like it!)
... They announced the 'retirement' of Google Reader*, that's what. Citing declining usage, they've given all users until July 1st to export their subscriptions elsewhere. But where is 'elsewhere' exactly? I've seen a jump in knitsofacto's followers on Bloglovin today. Feedly is promising a seamless transition from Google Reader. Blogger users still have the dashboard 'Reading List' of Blogger blogs they've followed. Or you could virtually sign the Keep Google Reader Running petition and hope Google will extend the July deadline (I doubt they'll rethink the forced closure). But that's not really the point ... the point is that nothing in life is free, even the stuff you don't have to pay for! And we're always going to be at the mercy of the whim of the provider of these free tools that we all take for granted.
Google is spring cleaning again - their words - and anything that doesn't further their dastardly plan for world domination is being tossed, or so some folk will tell you. Certainly, with about 90% of the search engine market share in the UK, and pushing 70% in the US, Google's algorithms control exactly what most of us discover when we seek something online. So don't be fooled into thinking that Google Search is a public service. It's not, it's a billboard for advertisers who, courtesy of data provided by Google, know just what you're likely to be looking for when you're using the internet. 96% of Google's $50 billion revenue comes from advertising, much of which is targeted, but barely a penny comes from Google Reader ... you do the math!
As with the changes to Google Image search, it is bloggers who will lose out here ... prepare to see a dip in traffic come the summer, however hard you work to ensure that folk can still follow your blog, if you have one. So, writer or reader, do please share how you feel about all of this, and I'd love to know which blog aggregator you think you might use instead.
Edited to add that personally I've not been using Google Reader so will have no need to switch. I've also deliberately avoided having all my eggs in one aggregator basket, as it were. I use Bloglines (but am considering switching to Feedly or the The Old Reader), and a while back started using Twitter, via a HootSuite stream for tweets about blog updates, and I have a loooong blog roll on my knitsofacto test blog. I'm just hoping Google doesn't have similar plans for Blogger down the line!
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Thank you all so much for the many good wishes you sent my mother's way. She is steadily improving after a minor setback and I'm finally finding time to catch up with a bunch of emails and with visiting your lovely blogs.
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* But hey, soon you'll be able to read your favourite blogs on Google Glass ... and that's a whole other can of worms!