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Bloggers Mourn and Bemoan the Imminent Death of Google Reader

Google announced yesterday that it is shutting down Google Reader, its RSS feed reader. Buried as the 5th bullet on a long list of product "closures" it was making as part of a spring cleaning, Google stated that

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Judging by the sentiment on Twitter, the public reaction to Google's shutdown of Google Reader breaks down roughly as follows:

  • 99 percent of the world could not have cared less, and were actually bemused to see that ...
  • 1 percent of the world looked and reacted as if the veterinarian had just said that their dog had only a few months left to live.

Speaking as a member of that howling 1 percent, my own reaction to learning about the imminent death of Google Reader was, and I quote, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" I believe that a large number of the other members of that 1 percent who care are bloggers, including many of the legal bloggers who I follow here at LBW (see, e.g., Like a Dagger to Bloggers' Hearts, Google Just Killed Google Reader).

Why do bloggers care about RSS feeds, and, specifically, Google Reader? Quite simply (unless you are Scott Greenfield), most humans and legal bloggers are incapable of sitting down at a computer and repeatedly coming up with ideas for intelligent, interesting posts. Yes, you may be able to do it for a day or a week or possibly even a couple of weeks, but blogging is a marathon and not a sprint. Can you do it every day for several years? I don't think so.

Following hundreds of blogs, news sources, Twitter feeds and things like key word searches is the way that most legal bloggers that I know of stay on top of what is going on in their area of interest. Subscribing to the RSS feed for each of these hundreds of sources is the easiest way to have all of this information pushed to you (rather than visiting hundreds of sites), and an RSS feed reader aggregates all of that information in one place. For me, that one place has been, since around 2008 or so, Google Reader. Although there are other RSS feed readers out there, Google Reader has been a dependable and easy-to-use tool that has allowed me to easily keep track of a huge amount of information, and to add new sources as desired.

Are there other RSS feed readers out there? It looks like it, but I'm sure 90 percent of the options stink and it will take me time and effort to figure out which is the best, and still more time and effort to move hundreds of feeds and learn how to use another reader. So please excuse me and my fellow legal bloggers while we mourn and possibly whine about this a bit.

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 14, 2013 at 04:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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