As a recovering Google Reader addict, I’ve been doing pretty good this year keeping my habit under control. I’ve trimmed my feeds down to a reasonable level, and rarely does my daily article count exceed the 150 level. It’s been a refreshing change from the crushing weight of trying to keep up with 300+ articles a day, which is where I was at during the height of my addiction.
So, I’m not sure if it was surprise, anger, disappointment, relief, or a combination of all of the above that I felt when I opened my Google Reader the morning of March 13th. The message staring back at me said that Google Reader would no longer be available starting July 1st – it had become a victim of Google’s “spring cleaning” so they can pour more energy into fewer products.
My first reaction was “how could they kill Google Reader?” Google Reader is such an integral part of my daily routine, much like reading the morning newspaper, that I couldn’t imagine that it would go away. It took a few minutes for the shock and disbelief to pass.
Once the shock and disbelief passed, the next thought was “how could they do this to me?” Yes, I took it personally, until I realized I wasn’t alone. Scanning the articles in my soon to be discontinued Reader confirmed it. Op-eds like this one on Mashable popped up expressing their love for Reader, others expressed how critical it is to their job, while another neatly summarized the shock and disbelief I initially felt (this one’s my personal fave).
Knowing that others were in the same boat as me helped me move from anger to feelings of disappointment. After flipping through numerous articles, it was clear that this was not an early April Fool’s joke and that Google was serious. In fact, I held out hope for most of the day that perhaps Google would reconsider their decision based on the strong negative reaction until I saw this article on GigaOM. When the creator of Google Reader states that Reader was living on borrowed time, it’s pretty clear that the decision is final.
After coming to the realization that I would have to move on, a feeling of relief came over me. It was almost as if Google realized I had a Reader addiction and was coming to my aid to help cure it, for good. It has certainly diminished the importance of Reader in my daily routine, and now I’m ready to perform another culling of my subscriptions as the looming deadline approaches.
If there is good news in the announcement, it’s two things. First, Google does provide a method for you to export your feeds so you can take them to another service. Marketing Land has provided a list of 12 alternatives that could be used instead of Google Reader. Second, by providing a few months of notice, it will give the existing services a chance to improve (which Feedly has been doing a lot of lately), or it will allow another party to step up and fill the void.
Now I just need to decide if I’m going to slowly wind down my reading between now and July 1st, go cold turkey on July 1st, or transition my addiction to another service. For the time being, I’m going to continue using Reader and see if one of the existing services separates from the pack or if a new option presents itself between now and July 1st.
No matter the outcome, it will feel good to finally put my addiction behind me. Thank you Google.