Nearly everyone in my online world is in a tizzy about Google reader going away. So much of my online work an cliff is tied up in google reader, I’m not sure how I’ll replace it. The larger issue is not reader itself, but RSS, which reader is built on. My dissertation focused on rss as a technology that binds the web together. RSS enabled me to forgo the tedious task of bookmarking things and checking them periodically for new stuff. I started with bloglines and moved to reader a couple of years later, mostly because the rest of my stuff was going Google. Through reader, I could easily read and share the blogs and other items I read. There’s nothing else out there that I’ve yet seen that does this so cleanly and seamlessly.
The argument has been that everyone is reading and sharing through Facebook and Twitter. Well, yes. And I use those, too, but those are like moseying up to the display table at a bookstore and seeing what the staff has picked out. Reader is like perusing a shelf of books in the library. There was order to it.
When blogs first came on the scene, I jumped in, reading and then writing. RSS was built for blogs, to capture an audience where none yet existed. Thanks to RSS, I had some 300 readers a day. friends of mine had more than that. we built a community around the connections we made. Newspapers and other online media were late to the rss game. I remember when the NYTimes finally got an RSS feed. But now, now there are those little buttons to like and tweet and pin, so no one needs rss anymore, or reader. I think maybe I know what the dawn of the automobile just have been like. One ecosystem faded, but another was built upon its remains. It’s at once sad and exhilarating. In case you’re wondering, I’m lamenting the passing of the old ecosystem. I’m standing around with my thumbs under my suspenders talking about the days when there were no browsers much less RSS. Yep, I’m the get off my lawn, back in my day, kids these days dude of the Internet.
I’m sure I will survive in the new ecosystem. It’s not like I’m totally unfamiliar with what else is out there, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to do the things I used to do with just twitter and Facebook. I’m going to drive my horse and buggy a little while longer.