RSS inventor doesn't see what all the fuss is about closing Google Reader

RSS inventor doesn't see what all the fuss is about closing Google Reader

Summary: As far as Dave Winer, one of RSS's creators, is concerned, Google turning off Google Reader isn't a big deal. The potential for Google to control the news flow is what he finds worrisome.


Google's decision to shut down its popular RSS client service, Google Reader, has some people in an uproar. Dave Winer, one of RSS's creators, has a different reaction: "I won't miss it."

Good-bye Google Reader, Dave Winer, an inventor of RSS, won't miss you.

Winer, who created the first version of RSS in 1997, continued, "Never used the damn thing. Didn't trust the idea of a big company like Google's interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news."

While Winer may not miss it, at least one petition asking Google to keep Google Reader alive has now topped 100,000 subscribers. Winer's heard from some people who don't want Google Reader to go. His reaction generated "a lot of traffic and a fair amount of hate from people who love Google Reader and probably don't like to hear from someone who uses RSS who won't miss it (i.e. me)."

He again emphasized that "it's possible to use RSS without being dependent on Google Reader. And since GR is going away, that should probably be seen as good news, not bad."

Why? Because "people will be well-served by a newly revitalized market for RSS products, now that the dominant product, the 800-pound gorilla, is withdrawing."

As it happens there's no shortage of RSS clients already available. Besides, as ZDNet's own David Morgenstern reported, "Developers had expressed worry about the continuation of Google Reader for more than a year. Google Reader was not a syncing service, and its APIs (application programming interfaces) were undocumented and unsupported."  It's also worth noting that at the same time Google announced it wasn't going to support Google Reader any more, the company also announced that it was deemphasizing its support for the open CalDAV calendaring protocol in favor of its own in-house protocol.

What does concern Weiner is how Google can control access to news. He wrote, "The thing to fear is that Google intends to control the news people can subscribe to, the same way Apple controls what apps you can buy for the iPad. Plus, the way Twitter decides what clients can have access to our tweets."

Winer has a point. Of my own personal Web sites, the single largest traffic source is Google with an average of 15 percent of my daily traffic.

Winer added, Google's "got a pretty nice interface for it, btw — the magical Google Now. It knows what information you're likely to want to see, and shows it to you. It's really good. But it's creepy in two ways. One way most people see is that it's snooping on what you do to figure out what you want to read. The second way: It's also deciding what you don't see.

He loves that "the content of my (news) river is not determined by any tech company. Do I think it will stay that way? It's possible that it might not."

Winer concluded, "We broke free for a bit with unrestricted flow from blogs and news orgs via RSS. There are people who would like to put the genie back in the bottle." Therefore, "News people — if your plan for the future includes free flow of news from journalists to readers, now's the time to take a look" (at continuing to support RSS.)

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Topics: Google Apps, Google, Networking, Software, Web development

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  • Is this why Aaron Swartz Committed Suicide

    So many people blamed a prosecutor for prosecuting. Everyone blamed everyone but Aaron who was in treatment for suicidal depression.

    And yet, wouldn't the news that GOOGLE would end the RSS Reader, and then potentially put the kybosh on all and everything RSS - wouldn't that affect young Aaron as well - in such a way that maybe he couldn't deal?

    Remember what we see is all a stage. And I think this is the real reason he committed suicide - not the minor perp walk he was facing for stealing all those docs when they would have been released months later anyway.
    Cos Hem
    • Get Over It

      Aaron Swartz committing suicide has nothing to do with this. Everywhere I go people like you find some sick way to twist everything into an argument about Aaron Swartz.

      About 800k to a million people commit suicide for various reasons each year, this is just one guy so get over it already.
      Vamien McKalin
  • Sorry, this doesn't follow

    "The thing to fear is that Google intends to control the news people can subscribe to, the same way Apple controls what apps you can buy for the iPad. Plus, the way Twitter decides what clients can have access to our tweets."

    Wrong. Google NEVER had control over how RSS worked. Google Reader was a fairly simple RSS storage device. In fact, it is so called "intelligent" feed storage providers where they hide articles based on algorithms where there might be cause for concern. Had Google gone that route, I could see a reason for concern but Google Reader is fairly "dumb". You store your feeds, it returns all the articles from all your feeds. That's it.

    While Google NEVER had control over how RSS workd, Twitter absolutely has control over how Twitter worked. Google didn't control the data that RSS returned. Twitter owns the data that Twitter clients return. Google never had the power to cut off the source of RSS data. Twitter absolutely has the power to cut off the source of Twitter data.

    I'm not being anti-Twitter (I use it, its fine) but the analogy doesn't hold. Twitter owns the source of tweet data. Google does not own the source of RSS data. If Google started playing around with their APIs, I could switch to an alternate method within minutes. When Twitter started playing around with their APIs, there was nothing anyone could do about it. When apple says "you can't install that app on our ipad" there is nothing anyone could do about it.

    Google was not an 800lb RSS gorilla. They might have been the 800lb RSS feed storage gorilla but they never had any ability to restrict my access to RSS feed data.
    • Maybe that's why Google is dropping Reader...

      something they couldn't control from end to end? However, with Google one never
      knows when something will be dropped for whatever reason, so I'm not surprised.
    • pathetic

      Google Reader is not RRS. Google Reader is not a simple storage service. They do exactly what the guy describe - filter. This *is* what Google do primarily.

      If you can't see it, you are deluding yourself.

      RSS, CalDAV etc will live fine without Google.
  • Stupidity, stupidity, stupidity

    Pathetic. The guy who invented RSS does not even understand the thing HE invented. This is a microcosm of what is wrong with the world. People invent stuff, sell out and have no idea or control over what they did. They did 3rd level programming and pasted together some code with an inkling of an idea and then the money brokers take over. What an idiot this guy is. Google controls a lot of information, but they do not control RSS. How can you even control RSS? Yes, I always suspected they might look at people's feeds, but who cares? I do not know why I waste my breath anymore. Logic is absolutely dead.
    Joey Lawrence
    • I couldn't agree more, but here's the thing...

      Your comments are right on!

      However, this supposed RSS inventor, despite making stupid comments, is merely being used by the author, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, to present a pro-Google blog post.

      If it was Microsoft discontinuing a very useful and important service, then Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols would not give a crap about this supposed RSS inventor. He'd be joining in with the rest of us cursing Google (and this supposed RSS inventor) for being so stupid.
  • RSS reader

    They are a great tool but I dont see the need for one for my use. I would have to many different things to read and it would take up half my day trying to see what I wanted to read. If I remember the site I will go to the site and read, if I dont, no big deal. Got too many other things that are more important anyway.
  • If I want and RSS reader

    I download Microsoft Visual tools Express, pick my poison VB or C# and create one.
    By the way I am a self thought programmer.

    I do not trust any web services on any outside businesslike goggle, Microsoft, Yahoo. Anybody remembers Geocities? I have my own blogs on a web host and another one for my email. No ads, no data mining and I can move to a new web host if the one I have goes belly up.
  • Google is a marketing company

    The only reason google is shutting down their RSS reader is because RSS gives users a way not to be force fed advertisments, and web tracking analytics. (yes, I know you can embed ads in RSS feeds, but in a very limited way)

    That's a great thing about RSS, I don't have to look at your seizure inducing, ad-laden website that shoves megabytes of javascript tracking and cookies into my browser.

    Google, like most web marketers hate anything that prevents them from gathering analytic data. things like RSS and adblock plus. You will notice that google no longer allows "ad blockers" in their play store.

    They want to shove ads and analytic tracking down everyone's throats 24/7.
  • Blocked By Profanity Filter AGAIN!

    From what I can gather I'm not the only one blocked by this out of control rogue profanity filter.
    My post is supposedly to be reviewed by a Moderator, but it just goes into the netherworld of cyberspace.
    ZDNet has some serious problems since the revamp.
  • Hope Winer is right

    that the future of RSS is not dependent on Google Reader. I'm with him in not giving Snoople any credit card ID, and silo my use of Chrome for Google's own fine services under a nonsense email address.

    That said, I haven't yet read how much of total RSS traffic is through Reader, and whether shutting down Reader could influence content sources and bloggers to stop providing RSS feeds. That would be a loss, as scanning my RSS pages is part of daily routine.
  • not that I care but

    I've used Reader exactly once - for me, it isn't "good riddance!" but "who cares?" -