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

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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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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