Prayer for Google Reader

Dear Google Reader!

 

Last night, after several months of only occassionally thinking about you, I set to make order among my feeds. It was a lot of work; I went to bed after 2 AM. There were several reasons to doing so: First, I was angry that Reeder, the app I’d been using to deal with you on my iOS devices, still hadn’t included the possibility to add new feeds, plus, since Evernote changed some security-related sign-in stuff, the app hadn’t (and still hasn’t) been able to connect to it. So I was learning how to use Feedly (great alternative to both Reader and Reeder) which helped in half of the problems (adding feeds: check, send-to-Evernote: not yet).
 

The second reason I returned to you after all those months was that I felt angry at the social networks that sort of replaced you and even angrier at me that I let that shallow trend win over me, 140 characters at a time.

 

I enjoyed hanging out with you again.

 

And then, in the morning (CET) I found out you’re going to retire soon. Damn it! Coincidence? Synchronicity? It feels as if I was connected to your energy after all and I made one last resuscitation before Google even announced you’re done.

 

Killreader

I feel very, very sorry for you, trust me. Since the very beginning of your existence, you’ve meant a lot to me despite of my unfaithfulness. You’ve been sort of synonymous to inspiration, motivation, soul healing and other things to me, because that’s what I had “in you”. Through you great thoughts, books and music that have been discovered to me and I’ll be always grateful. And I’ll have memories connected to you forever – or at least till Alzheimer do us part.

 

I used to work for Microsoft on two managerial positions, but I’ve been always a huge – and open – fan of Google services even then. Google Search, Gmail and you, Google Reader, have been my favorite online tools, I used to beta-test you (remember when you were still a Labs experiment?) and my own voice can be heard on a couple of official Czech Google videos introducing other services (oh yeah). After a year of communicating officially to MS customers from my Gmail account my sweet bosses sort of made me use a @microsoft vendor account and imposed a ban on me using Docs – to my defence, I was naive and didn’t know there was a merciless war between the two corporations). Even more: I introduced Gmail and you to several former colleagues of mine and a few of them later literally came to my desk to express their gratitude, because, frankly, from many points of view these services (it feels wrong to call you a service: these friends of online users) do not have a match. Well, using Outlook for e-mail, appointments, tasks and RSS feeds – come on. Me and my friends in the sub were the source of bad image regarding the usage of Google servers (and there were many of us, to be honest) as well as a catalyst of a region-wide discussion of the platform (especially in my sector: education, where you still DO matter, my friend).

 

In my head you’re not synonymous only to the “big world” symbolically. In 2008 I, an ordinary Czech guy, visited Hong Kong for the occassion of the Innovative Teachers Forum, the world’s biggest and arguably best get-together of the world’s greatest (in a way) K12 teachers. I had an excellent, world-class teacher and a friend with me, Lukas. That guy shared with me his Google Reader feeds there and these were so great that I’ve been using all his labels almost unchanged since then. At about that time the arguably most influential Czech edu journalist, Janek, shared some of his feeds with me, too and I’ve kept them as well. 

 

The following year, 2009, the Forum, renamed to Innovative Education Forum, took place in Brazil. Another great teacher, Karel, was there with me and this time I already knew the difference between double-bed and twin-bed so we didn’t have to spend the nights sharing one (unlike the previous year). One day we had – in our hotel room in Salvador with the most beautiful view we’ve ever seen – relaxing on the two individual beds, a discussion about RSS readers. Karel prefered something he had to install on his Windows Vista (yeah I know) notebook, an application he had to have with himself in order to be able to use it; I don’t remember its name any more but it’s not important. What is, though: the argument we had back then. I explained to him that you, dearest Google Reader, are simply the world’s best RSS Reader ever and that you’re the future (what an irony, right?). I could use your services from all around the world, from all kinds of devices and all the important and inspirational stuff would just stay “in you” (love this feature!) forever. I explained to him why services like Gmail and you are the way to go. When remembering that dialogue now, it seems obvious that I was talking about the Cloud – which hadn’t been such a buzzword back then by far.

 

And you know what? I won Karel on “our” – your and mine – side. You became his feed reader of choice and he would never stop employing you for his purposes, whatever they were. Traitor of my breadwinner for the higher good.

 

Time leap forward to the present day. 

 

After the night spent again with you I got an iMessage (yeah, what platform-independent bastards the two of us are!) from Karel in the morning stating “”Reader finished!!!!”.

 

GReader 

 I couldn’t believe my eyes and after checking it online, this announcement made me truly sad. If it is really true, I would like to thank you – and your Google owners – for helping me dealing with information overload and to show me and lead me through lots of important or at least interesting pieces of information; I really loved having you around. I was OK with retiring of Buzz and Wave, but seriously: even you, dear friend? You’re still too young, full of energy and rich with followers!

 

However, I still hope that decision can be changed. I’ll be happy to pay for your valuable services if that’s an issue. I wish for that announcement to be just a provocation targeted on the audience which turned its back to personally filtered information and got bogged down to the shallowness and exhausting potpourri of numerous social networks. I have hopes for your masters and commanders to say, OK, folks, millions of you beseeched us to let Google Reader live and so the Reader survives, stays and will be developed further. I pray for you to overcome this as a temporary difficulty in the way Googlich Rietzsche apptly expressed as “That which does not kill Google Reader makes Google Reader stronger.”

 

I’ve already signed the petition and should anyone read my miserable attempt for a prayer: Please, sign it, too!

 

Thank you.

 

Best of luck to us all,

 

Jan, the Google Reader fan

 

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