Friday, October 21, 2011

Google Reader: This is going to hurt

Let's get the good news out of the way.

Google has stepped back from their Buzz/G+ nymwar policy. Google will support pseudonyms. So they listened after all.

More good news. As promised, Google Reader lives.

That's enough of the good news. Don't want to overdose.

The bad news is that Google will be ripping out a lot of GR in favor of G+, even though G+ lacks a mechanism for subscribing to aspects of a person's stream. Much of the functionality I love, such as the feed for GR shares, the web page created from GR shares and notes, the ability to follow my trusted curators shares -- it's all at risk. In my case, tens of thousands of annotations, a vast amount of Cloud data, is at risk., by far my most heavily used iPhone app, is at risk.

The worst news is that Google is giving us 1 week's warning. It's almost as though they want to get this over with before they get a nymwar level of feedback.

Happily, we bereaved GR users are not alone. There are 357 comments on Alan Green's G+ announcement, and the last few hundred are a tad ... unhappy. Please feel free to add your comments one way or another.

My primary comment is that Google needs to stop and think - carefully. Sure, there aren't many GR power users. What we lack in numbers, however, we more than make up in geekery. We are uber-geeks and/or journalists, and we have a long memory. Apple can blow away data, but we don't mind. We never trusted them with our data. Google though, Google's not Apple. We expect different failures from Google.

There's a tsunami of hurt building in the obscure little GR community. We may be small Google, but we're rabid little buggers. E.D. Kain, Sarah Perez, Skeptic Geek, Jesse Stay, Incidental Economist, Martin Steiger, Brett Keller, me... We're coming out of the woodwork.

There is a right way to fix GR. That would be to clean up and fill out the current feature set, and replace Reader's dead Buzz functionality with similar G+ functionality. Offer us the option to share via G+ in addition to GR -- assuming G+ gets its interest streams working.

Google's making the same kind of mistake they made with the nymwars. That one they're fixing. Maybe they'll fix this one too.

So we're gonna yell. One week isn't much, but it may be enough time to get Alan Steel and his colleagues to put the brakes on. Stop, then think.

Update: My companion G+ stream post (restricted).

Update 10/21/11: There's a petition expressing user concerns about Google's plan.


Brett Keller said...

I posted a little petition to "Save Google Reader" last night: 1,157 responses and counting! (A lot of those came overnight from users in Iran, where the announcement re: Reader is not going over well at all.) Just one more way of showing we're unhappy. I'm fine with them adding functions to G+, but they shouldn't take them away from GR as a way of forcing us to switch services.

JGF said...

Excellent. I added the petition link to my post.

Michael Morgenstern said...

I created a petition as well. No harm in having two, I think, and I thought it was better to have it on a page where you can easily see the signatures. If you want to sign it, go to