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I'm still pretty ticked off about this. Almost 4 years ago now Google killed Google Reader, an RSS aggregation tool you could sort of view as a kind of GMAIL for RSS feeds.

Google said it was due to a steadily declining user base (which I equate, as often is the actual case, with an increasingly sophisticated one) which never made sense to its most astute users who were left scrambling to find a replacement service.

There really wasn't one. Many of the alternatives achieved a kind of functional equivalent only in the strictest sense. They all happily aggregated RSS feeds, yet failed to meet the aesthetic or organizational efficiency of Google Reader.

Feedly was widely ordained the defacto alternative presumably because it looked similar enough to Google Reader's design, to a point.

But at the time, and, understand it may be different today, I found that it was a bit too gaudy and high on the principle that your news feed should, at any cost, look like a series of magazines. It was like the service was ashamed of RSS's down and dirty approach and they tried to clean it up as a first step in the user experience.

What still grinds my gears about Google Reader's shutdown is that it appears to have been nothing more than Google's way of using its size and influence to engineer web behavior away from open APIs (read: profitless dumb pipes).

Broadly speaking Google couldn't stop people from reading news and web updates all in one place if that's what people wanted - the inferior services and RSS client side alternatives would still exist. But it didn't have to participate by providing the best watering hole.

By merely disrupting the RSS-reading population's primary fix with their little product shutdown, a good percentage of people would step away from RSS, never to return. Thus the open web would decay by yet another notch.

Some theories to this effect surfaced around the time of its shutdown.

As a sidenote, I believe the actual best alternative to Google Reader today happens to be, of all places, AOL Reader. Counter to its parent company's roots among the newbies way back when, AOL Reader feels about as close to a serious tool as Google Reader did.

 
 
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