As one of the dozens of talented people who made Google Reader a reality over the years, I would like to extend my gratitude to you, the millions of users who made it part of your routine and your lives.
Looking on the bright side, closing down a site with an active user base gives us all the opportunity to celebrate the product’s 7.5 year run in a much richer way than the far more common ‘last one here please turn off the lights’ kind of demise. In the last three months there has been a renaissance of activity in the RSS/newsreader world. Products that had long been idling renewed development, products that relied on Google Reader for their back-end have successfully shifted to their own infrastructure, and major Web players rushed to create their own readers to fill the imminent gap.
Am I melancholy? Of course. Do I wish that Google wasn’t shutting down Reader? Duh. Yet in the midst of my mourning I’m excited by how many flowers are blooming in Reader’s wake. It’s really unprecedented. A testament both to the ever-lowering barrier to entry for website and mobile app creators, and the global demand for managing constantly growing streams of information (hardly just news sites), this is a cottage industry that is being reborn with vigor right before our eyes. I’m certain that in the coming years we’ll see a new breed of product, borne on the backs of ‘news’ and ‘social’ that both owes its invention to those aggregators that came before, and makes them look primitive in retrospect.
But back to the here and now: Google Reader will fall off the face of existence on Monday, so you should export all the data you’ve got in there. Mihai published a great tool and guide for this today and there are dozens of articles giving recommendations on which Google Reader replacement to turn to.
Wherever you go, thank you for using Reader. The most fulfilling aspect of being a UX designer is knowing that people find utility and pleasure in the things I help create, and we don’t often enough take the opportunity to thank our users.