in Futurist, MT.Net, Musings

Google Reader and the danger of walled gardens

Sadly, I learned today that Google is pulling the plug on Google Reader, it’s RSS aggregation service. No explanation was given for the move.

Over on the Google Reader forums, I posted this question:

So, with Google’s shutdown of Google Reader, do the “walled gardens” of Facebook and Google Plus win? Is this the end of the easily-searchable, anyone-can-set-up-shop-on-the-Internet days?

Why would Google intentionally make it HARDER for its users to follow their interests online? How could Reader possibly be sapping enough resources to justify its end?

For several years I trusted Google to help me keep track of my favorite websites and blogs by using its Google Reader service. I did so with trepidation: I handed over my RSS feeds completely with the assumption that they would remain available. In the back of my mind, though, I wondered how I would get my data out if the day came that I needed to. Well, today’s that day.

This is what it really comes down to for me: I trusted Google to maintain my data and Google has pulled the plug. Today Google decided to shut down Reader; what’s to keep it from shutting down Google Plus tomorrow? What if Facebook began charging user fees, holding YOUR data hostage? Or if it suddenly removed your account without explanation, as has happened to some unfortunate users? The saying goes that once something gets on the Internet it’s there forever, but is this really true? How much do you trust the Googles and the Facebooks of the world not to rip the digital rug out from under you at any time, for any reason?

I like to maintain a presence on many social media outlets, the walled gardens included. That said, the only one of these that I directly control is right here: my blog. Should my hosting provider shut down (as it is), I can easily move it to another provider and be back online in a day or less. I can say what I want, I can make an ass of myself, I can post dirty pictures if I want, and I can cuss like the sailor I am if I want. My blog is me, unfiltered. No faceless corporation can take that away from me.

Is Google’s shuttering of Google Reader a sign that the walled gardens, the invitation-only social media sites, have won? An admission that no one reads blogs anymore? I don’t know the answers, but this decision makes clear the folly of letting someone else decide that for us.

  1. Given that the website of every Greader alternative is unreachable this evening, there seems to be an awful lot of people looking for answers. I’m going to see if I can get Tiny Tiny RSS running tomorrow. Officially they don’t support shared hosting, but I don’t see anything in the requirements that I don’t have.

    Worst case, I’ll go back to a client and just deal with the lack of sync.

  2. I’ve got it running. Still struggling with updating as I don’t think I have the ability to fire off php scripts via chron on my shared hosting. However, the interface is perfectly usable. If I can get auto updating to work I think it’ll be fine for me. They have an Android client too.

Comments are closed.