Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Death of A (Google) Reader, and the problem with the mutable web

They moved the curious back, the rain falling faster now, and they moved the reader over close to a pile of dead products. Brin had the halter and Green had the gun, shaped like a giant plus symbol. This symbol he placed, the crowd silent, on the reader's forehead, just between the eyes. The colt stood still and then Green, with the hammer in his other hand, struck the handle of the plus. There was a short, sharp sound and the reader toppled onto his left side, his comments unread, his friends gone, the free feeds quivering.

"Aw, ----" someone said.

That was all they said. They worked quickly, the two techs removing the broken comments as evidence for the insurance company, the crowd silently watching. Then the heavens opened, the rain pouring down, the lightning flashing, and they rushed for the cover of the internet, leaving alone on his side near a pile of deceased products, the rain running off his sharing settings, dead an hour and a quarter after his first start, Google Reader, son of Gmail, full brother of Google Docs.

Apologies to the great W.C. Heinz (who none of us damn bloggers have read anyway), but it felt appropriate. Google's bizarre decision to kill off the social functions in one of its best products has led to outrage from Tehran to Washington, for excellent reasons. Whether you use it for undermining a totalitarian state, exchanging political or social commentary or merely just hanging out with friends and laughing about DogFort or 3eanuts, Reader's an amazing tool and one that be can adapted to just about any purpose. It's much more than simply an RSS feed of blogs; it's one of the best things on the web.