1 min read

Closing Google Reader was bad

Journalists love RSS feeds because it means they can keep a close watch on important news sources. Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are in no way comparable.

Attempting to close off any information pipeline is bad, even given the excuse that fewer people use the service.

There’s another reason closing Google Reader was bad. Possibly even evil. Remember, Google is the company that used to claim it would “do no evil”.

RSS is an open standard. Anyone can use it. Anyone can build software tools around it. You don’t need to have an account with any all-embracing online service. You don’t need to send metadata on what you are reading to some big data project.

Google once championed openness. Many people in technology still view the company through rose-tinted spectacles and think it still does. That’s just no longer the case.

The big online companies, Google, Facebook, Apple and Yahoo are all busy trying to recreate the walled gardens they all sneered at when AOL ran things that way. Closing Reader may not kill RSS – indeed it triggered a mini-revival – but one-by-one the online giants are constructing fences and putting more pressure on openness.