Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On the death of Google Reader

The joke was on me.

I made the upfront investment.... on faith alone... in countless hours scouring and curating the web. My last stats were something along the lines of reading 10k+ articles monthly, sharing almost 1k/week. How many people can keep up with that?

Before Google killed their Reader yesterday, I'd amassed a pile of curated and - most importantly - searchable links. The "Shared Items" search was massively utilitarian (in one instance, shaving thousands of dollars off an auto-repair bill due to my searching having eliminated a previous information-asymmetry between myself and a retailer), making it easy to search a body of stuff I'd already qualified. Spammers can't game that.

But more importantly, apparently Google can't monetize it. So it's history.

Familiar story - a few smart heads wrap around a problem, solve it, and change the world. Then "The Money" moves in.....

Right now, money rules. We're in a new gilded age - a resurgence of social bivalence: you're either in, or out. No more middle ground.

And "The Money" thinks the future is all about "right here, right now." Google grew up as a "search" company, but now, it's looking more like they're a biometric inventory company - vacuuming up enormous amounts of identifiable behavioral data and selling it.

The most valuable data is, of course, timely. "What can we sell you RIGHT NOW!?" is all Google wants to know anymore, because that's what "The Money" wants to know. That's why the new GUI looks the way it does - everything is coming back to WAVE, except with more ads, and more people employed in real-time to sell you stuff. Got a pretty face? You've got a future on Google +....

But Reader users don't want to buy anything - that's why we enable AdBlock. RSS (mostly) doesn't carry ads. Reader was the anti-web for the internet. Reader WAS the internet - just not the abstraction most people think of.

Most people visit "websites" - not Sharebr@s. We'd click through once in a while, but we wanted the content - and only the content.

It was the future of everything but that future couldn't be monetized: so it had to die.