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Google Reader's shutdown is a serious wake up call

I can't remember the last time the sunsetting of an online service bugged me all that much. These days there are so many alternatives out there that why give a rip? I guess there aren't a ton of things I'm absolutely married to. One key exception to that rule those are some of the Google Apps. Things like Gmail, Google Docs, and yes, Reader are apps that I use every day and have made a part of my daily workflow for so long now that it's hard to imagine an alternative. And today was a massive wake up call as Google announced they'll be shutting down the service on July 1st. Of course my initial reaction to this was probably a few steps down from losing a loved one. Despite what many prominent tech bloggers want to say about "the death of RSS" I have used an RSS Reader for probably 8 or 9 years now. I used Bloglines back before it died and then rebirthed itself as a data mining wolf in sheep's clothing (hat tip to Ben Rimes on pointing that out to me). And once Google Reader came along all the rest of the competition just kind of disappeared and people stopped thinking about alternatives. Even as the popularity of RSS grew with the introduction of mobile apps like Flipboard, Reeder, and Pulse many of those apps relied on Google Reader as the backend. And maybe that's the biggest problem of all. Google has a way of entering a market and devastating the competition leaving little in its wake, which is exactly what happened. And now they're giving up on that market and what at first feels like a loss could turn out to be a renaissance and revival of the technology we love. As Marco Arment says, calling for Google to back off and either remove the July 1 deadline or do an about face could actually be the worst result of all. Between now and July 1st we're going to see a massive amount of competition rise up and answer the question of "What's next?" for RSS. With Google out of the running it means all the little guys have a fighting chance again to win the hearts and minds of everyone. And it's also a nascent opportunity for a group to build a free and open source reader for all. As for me I've taken D'Arcy's advice and decided to buy and run Fever on my own hosted space. It's actually an easy decision because not only is Fever beautiful and a dead simple install, but it interfaces with Reeder, the iOS app that I'm already using on all my devices for feeds. There will be a lot of posts and projections in the next days and weeks with lists of apps to replace Google Reader, but by running this on my own space I can future-proof myself from having a service sunset on me while my back was turned. This announcement is also a massive wake up call to me regarding those other Google services I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Before today I thought Google Reader was a standard and invincible. What other services will Google decide they just aren't interested in keeping up tomorrow? I'm going to spend the next few days taking a hard look at all of them and deciding what I can realistically reclaim in my own space rather than wait for the grass to burn around me. Google has a single motivation, to mine my data for advertising dollars, and any service that doesn't promote that end goal is getting the axe sooner or later. And honestly I'm not sure I want to be on either side of that fence. Photo Credit: IWDRM