Advertising Company Google Killer Reader 10 Years Ago

Posted on Thursday, Mar 16, 2023 by Ned Bellavance

Featured in this episode of Chaos Lever

Never forgive, never forget.

It was a decade ago that Advertising Company Google formally announced they were discontinuing Reader, but it still feels like it was yesterday. For those who never had the pleasure of using Reader, it was essentially an RSS feed aggregator that ran in your browser.

RSS is probably best known as that weird protocol podcasts use, but it’s really just a way to publish content to subscribers in a standard format at an unchanging URL. As someone who ingests a lot of news, being able to view and control the aggregation of sites is awesome.

For sites that still support RSS, I tip my hat to you. Everyone else? You suck.

Regarding Reader, I want to make two things very clear:

  1. Google Reader was not the greatest application ever. Advertising Company Google is notoriously bad at UI and design, and Reader was no exception.
  2. Free replacements absolutely exist. I’ve been happily using Feedly for the last 7 or 8 years.

The death of Reader is about something bigger. It was the beginning of Advertising Company Google’s run of ruthlessly killing off apps, a practice I would argue has sowed distrust with users and stunted innovation at Advertising Company Google to the degree that it was ever there.

Additionally, it signaled to news aggregators like Facebook and Advertising Company Google itself that they should focus on curating the feed for you, injecting ads and monetizing your eyeballs.

In memoriam Google Reader. You weren’t the best. You weren’t even that good. But you represented a better possible internet, and I lament your early demise every day.