A couple big news items, yesterday: a new pope was elected and a sunset date for Google Reader was announced. I want to talk about the important one.
RSS is a system that hugely shapes the way I read online, and, unsurprisingly, Google Reader has been my app of choice. Other info flows I use include Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. But only Reader gives me good, functional, time-based control. I can easily separate out the important blogs from the less important. I’ve filtered them down (all 265 of them) into a handful of sedimentary layers that allows me to read only what I have time for. If I get through the top priority blogs, I move on to the next. At this moment, the third level has 416 unread posts and the fourth has 1000+, most of which I’ll never read, which is fine by me since I know I’ve already read what’s important to me. I delete anything over two weeks I haven’t yet read. It’s a wonderful system for sorting the best from the good from the so-so.
At the moment, nothing else gives me this kind of control. RSS allows me to create a very personalized magazine for myself in a way that nothing else can. Facebook wants to be my online magazine, but it never will be; it’s a friendship circle, not a professional one. My Google Reader setup is literally my professional trade mag. As a designer and developer, I get most of my industry news and information from that feed. It’s very very important to me in this regard.
The news that Google is finally shutting down Reader (on July 1st) was not unexpected. But it will have big, exciting repercussions in the Web industry. Suddenly, there is a big open space for innovation to happen, innovation that is sorely needed. I wouldn’t be surprised if something rises out of this and fundamentally changes how we use the Web, something big like browsers, or Twitter, or the iPhone. I hope so, at least. RSS is a 14 year old thing, but it still has a lot of unused potential. I’m really looking forward to all the smart discussion that will be happening around this in the next few months. Smarter people than me will come up with some great ideas.