Thursday, March 14, 2013

Google Reader is dead. Long live Google Reader!

It's stupid, I recognize that. But I'm almost distraught at the news that Google Reader is being shut down in a few months. No point in explaining it if you don't already know it, but it's the best RSS feed reader out there as far as I was concerned. And while there are replacements out there, the simple, clean interface and the perfect integration with my Google account just can't be replaced.

But why should I even care? I should probably be grateful: maybe this will help me be less addicted to the internet. And obviously in the grand scheme of things, this is obviously the smallest of small inconveniences. It's basically a parody of #firstworldproblems that I'm even writing any of this. Again, I recognize that. And yet . . .

We don't think it's that weird for people to have an emotional attachment to a car, or a house, or a local grocery store, or any of a number of other inanimate objects. I remember reading a pretty moving virtual memorial service for a chapel that had burned down back in 2009! And there's the classic Mormon example of holy nostalgia for otherwise normal places that were the scene of some transcendental experiences. So why not a nonphysical thing? Now don't misunderstand this analogy. I'm not suggesting that Google Reader was in any sense holy or really even all that great on its own. It was wonderfully functional, but I'm not trying to deify a web app.

No, I'm just saying that Google Reader was a simple background for most of the most interesting stuff I've read over the last few years. (And Molly Mormon Democrat can confirm that that's a lot :) ) It's like the road you walked to school on for years--it wasn't anything particularly special in itself, but when it gets bulldozed to make a new housing development or a highway, you miss it. Something that was simple, comfortable, and dependable is gone.

I'm sure people thought it was stupid for an audience member to be emotionally affected by a play the first time that happened. ("They're just actors! As in, everything they said was not real. You realize that, right?!") Or by a TV show. ("It's a stupid half-hour vehicle for showing you commercials!") Or whatever. This century it's going to be websites. I mean, even if you didn't use Reader, can you imagine the day when Google will be shut down? It's almost unfathomable today, but it will be happen. And you might not be upset, but you'll probably at least be annoyed about having to find a new search engine (or whatever we're using then for some vaguely analogous purpose). Or when Gmail closes its doors. It's just kinda weird to think about. It will happen someday. Of course life will go on, but a little bit of who you were as a human was wrapped up in something you used extensively and reflexively. And that's how I feel today. Just weird. And yes, a bit sheepish about feeling so weird.

And it's going to be especially weird to see this very post pop up in my Reader feed in about 30 seconds, when I open it again in the Pavlovian response that is built into my fingers when I'm using the internet . . . :)


  1. As I'm sure virtually all of my (ten or so) readers do . . . :(

    But if y'all don't mind a little profanity (and at times like these, who doesn't?), there's a great Hitler reaction to the news. Silver linings and all that.

  2. I read this via Reader, as well. You tug on my heartstrings, sir.