Goodbye Google Reader, You Will Be Missed

Goodbye Reader. I will miss you.

Back in my PayPal days, with many predictable big-company-engineering idle moments at hand, waiting on hour-long builds to see if I got all my semicolons just right, my friend Wayne introduced me to you. Almost immediately, he and I spent a few moments one afternoon making one the arguably largest contributions I’ve ever made to mankind’s happiness: a better cyanide and happiness feed, just for you (and, well, ourselves..).

A few months later, Wayne declared RSS bankruptcy and shrugged you off for good, or at least for the most part. I suppose, given that you’re shutting down, many other Waynes out there followed the same path.

They say RSS is dead. They say the future of sharing important information is my relatives sharing meme images full or republican or liberal bullshit on facebook. They say this is the way of things, the beautiful future we’re all looking forward to. Thats what they say.

Insiders say you never really gained traction, your target market is too-small, or stagnant, or diminishing. I’m sorry to hear that, Reader, because you are one of my most favorite applications of all time.

I just want to let you know that I really appreciate the work and effort that went into making you, you truly improved my life.

Back in 2009 when you and I first became friends, I was constantly clicking through four or five bookmarks in my browser, dozens of times a day – checking slashdot over and over, and so on. I was wasting time, and learning and growing at a horribly inefficient speed. … then you and I met.

When we first met, I was so psyched to always know I was up to date on the latest slashdot headlines – that was enough right there. Then, a few months later, you went one better and enabled sharing items with friends, and through my friends I discovered joystiq, kotaku, joel on software, boing boing, lifehacker, and coding horror. Later you added recommendations, introducing me to xkcd, the consumerist, and a dozen other great publications that I may have never encountered otherwise. You kept getting better and better, and I never lost the habit.

As time wore on, bullshit corporate ineptitude led to crippling you for no good reason, taking away my friends’ ability to easily collaborate and share great stories publicly – I suppose that’s why we’re all on facebook now, sharing memes full of political bullshit. Taking away our ability to share with each other with RSS sucked, several of my buddies jumped ship then, going to other services or kicking the habit altogether, but you were still indespensible to me – one random user out of your too-small-and-shrinking target market.

I kept on coming back to you, and I’m glad I did. Despite your dwindling feature set and steady-state stagnance, you later introduced me to ars technica, and hacker news. In turn these and other news sources introduced me to gamasutra, daring fireball, damn interesting, bash cures cancer, one thing well, destructoid, the oatmeal, hyberbole and a half, and of course, stevey’s blog rants. With you, I was able to keep up with my friends who still blog something more interesting than the Nth political meme or “like for a cause” idiocy. You and I, we had some really, really great times.

I starred what seemed like a million items, to come back to later, and I kept on clicking that “share” button, even though I knew everything I “+1ed” was going to some undiscoverable corner of a locked-down inferior product. I couldnt bring myself to click “Share” anymore, because unlike all of those political-meme facebook users, I didnt want to spam my entire friends list with 10 items a day, even if your product is a ghost town. I just wanted my friends to be able to see some neat stuff if they liked, so +1 was alright – I guess.

I was bitter about the +1 nonsense, I suppose I still am, but your parent’s ineptitude can’t take away the good things you did for me.

You saved me countless pointless hours opening and reopening a handful of websites, and you introduced me to and allowed me to easily track dozens more. You made me a better person, in many ways. Because of you I’ve learned from a million startup failures, and the occasional poignant story of a life well spent. You’ve inspired or entertained dozens of my friends whenever you showed me something one of them would have loved. With your help, I’ve become a better husband, brother, and man, because you have so often shown me or taught me just one more small thing that adds a new little piece of me, some new nugget that furthers my understanding and appreciation of this beautiful world.

Alas, sometimes good things come to an end, and that’s a damn shame. For me, there’s kind of a silver lining, you shutting down has inspired me to make something worthwhile with some of those great tips and resources I found while spending so many moments with you. Indeed, your shut down has been a catalyst in my life to make the world just a little bit better than it would have been had you just kept on keeping on. For that, I thank you.

You’ve also taught me the true meaning of the phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. Losing you has taught me the value in paying for services where a company has a vested interest in maintaining the product. Losing you has taught many of us the perils of trusting any non-mission-critical product offering from your parent company, or any company at all.

I dont’t blame you, Reader, for throwing in the towel. A recent lesson in my own life is that sometimes you build something, knowing it will be incredibly useful and bring joy to many people, but without ROI, further investment, or even keeping the lights on in a steady-state can be a losing game.

We had some great times together, my friend, countless quiet moments spent learning about something new, something tragic, or something inspiring together. My life is and was improved by you, Reader, and for that, I thank you.

Goodbye Reader, you have been a great friend. You will be missed.

Music: iredescent