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the google reader wake up call

as those who care, few enough, already noticed, google dropped what little and big support of rss they ever had - the never officially implemented rss-feature for chrome has been discontinued (little) and google reader will be closed (big) (and apple joined the rss-bashing fun). as some have noted, this is a great opportunity to realize that relying on a single provider for services is not a good idea. for me personally this means that i want to get away from google services altogether, even though for many of them i've been a happy early adopter and frequent user.
but seriously, i got rid of facebook without a hassle (thanks not only to sean's wake up calls), so why should it be hard to get rid of google?

well, because googles services used to be very, very convenient. they used to be - and some still are - the best available. google has what might be the biggest database of user and usage data, and more often than not they were able to use this for best possible user experiences. and, contrary to facebook, they many times succeeded, even if the products were at one point cancelled because they were not right for their time or simply didn't make a dent big enough to create a new market niche - wave, for example, was an awesome product, but most people didn't get what to do with it - or didn't bother to try. whereas facebook of course has at least the same relative amount of usage data for their own site, but managed to - in peoples perception - fuck up every feature and any update at any given moment. this might have been because facebook was never really that good hiding their company-shareholder-profitability-agenda on the one hand, and maybe because the average facebook user isn't a technically inclined person. facebook users weren't early adopters, they always were peer pressured or update-forced to updates or certain usage models. seriously, facebook is like some stupid drug, everybody hates it, nobody is happy using it, nobody originally wanted to start using it but finally caved in because they wanted to be cool in front of their friends ("mum! you NEED to use facebook! otherwise you will NEVER see your son that lives on the other side of the world, because it is far too big a hassle to email you messages and photographs like some neanderthal!"). this is how social online networks work: build a wall, get everybody in. the business model is a shady one of the likes of coca-cola and nestlé, where stuff you already had is suddenly worth something and that is why you have to push lab rat buttons in order to get it from now on. and it is why, so far, they all failed sooner or later, because at the end they could not offer all of the open webs features inside of their restrictive little ecosystem. myspace was a horrible blog-service, let's not talk about AOL, geocities was a horrible music service, and ping was a horrible news aggregator.
so: facebook is a somewhat okayish news aggregator, because it relies on your connected profiles or "friends" to fill you front page with content. since the people you contact most are preferred in the front page filling hierarchy, the content you see is content you are most likely interested in (thus creating/amplifying what is known as filter bubble).
and facebook does for many what blogs couldn't do for them, it is an easy way to build your public persona and present yourself to your social audience, present what music you like by sharing youtube links, what causes you think important by sharing news site links, et cetera, up to organizing events.
but all of has a wall that is the facebook login. this us/them dichotomy is necessary because social networks want and need your data and usage information - and of course, user information as well. you pay with your input, and gain access to the content that you can not have without giving your data to the network. but, to stretch the nutrition analogy from before, the price you pay is nestlé and coca-cola defecating in your once clean well.

and all of that is true not only for facebook, but for any social network, google+, (orkut - are there any others still on the market? who cares.)

of course: you could just not give a fuck about the network and instead use open technology. you could for example use a self hosted site or blog instead of a wall. (or you could fragment your info to different services so that one breaking down won't kill all of your online persona - a way i chose, for now, using a self hosted minimal website, tumblr site for sharing and a google hosted (HNNNNNNNGGGGG) blog for blogging.(you didn't need to click that. thanks, anyway.)) you could visit other peoples sites and blogs instead of their pages to see what they care about.

and, as jan once posted (a wake up call for me too), rss is the open key to this. (well, so it was actually a reference to this post here) with rss you don't need to manually visit all of your friends web sites, you just subscribe to them, without any "they are my friend" bullshit. you can even subscribe to people that you hate! you could for example, subscribe to the mpaa's updates and news releases without "like"ing them! how awesome is that?
and you can offer your content, as minimal as it may seem, effortlessly as rss feed for others to subscribe.

that is why rss had to go. because it is a way to break in to google+'s wall. to break into googles wall - which of course hasn't been there forever. before google started g+, it had no interest in disabling alternatives. now it has. and that sucks ass.
that is why i do not want to use google services any longer.
yes, they are convenient. and yes, alternatives will have downsides. and i am not advocating not to use any convenient web service at all, but i think this is a good moment to think about the services i use and to consider alternatives to the one i might actually not want to use - or support - anymore.

as for rss: jan supports and uses tiny tiny rss+gritttt-rss, a self hosted service which sounds really awesome. i can see myself upgrading to a server provider that supports it in the near future.

so, back to firefox it is.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous21/3/13 10:21

    I phased out all google services together with nic. I don't even notice any more. The only thing that I can't leave behind is google search, duckduck simply isn't up to par – yet.


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