It is difficult to express in words the acute sense of sorrow – indeed heartache – I feel in the knowledge that, in all probability, the next time I go online and open my browser, I shall be confronted with my default page opening up and showing either a “page not found”, or a redirection to the interface of the wildly unpopular Google Plus.
The decision by Google to effectively destroy Google Reader, without any consultation with its loyal and dedicated userbase, is a significant blow to me, on so many levels, and I wanted to take this opportunity to explain just why it is important enough for me to have been spamming facebook with news of it, and even helping arrange for a protest outside Google DC’s office.
I have previously mentioned how vital Google Reader is to my political activities – and this is certainly true; I genuinely do not know how I shall be able to keep much of the advocacy I do at the same level of effectiveness without it – specifically, without the functions that are being destroyed in the transition to Google Plus. To call it vital would be an understatement. But there is a lot more to it than that.
To me Google Reader was always so much more than a tool to receive news and information: it was a social network beyond par that was a significant part of my life, and that I shall miss deeply.
In contrast to the facile commentary that dominates facebook, or the flippancy of twitter, it was a forum for discussion, for the cultivation of ideas and where you could deeply get to know members of your community in ways that other social networks made physically impossible. The degree of camaraderie it inspired and fostered, the intimacy it necessitated, the manner in which it was like being in a room talking with all your closest friends from around the world at the same time, the organic development of idiosyncratic little in jokes in different groups, the petty joke squabbling, and all the tactics I satarised some time ago that made up the race to “win” google reader” – these were all things that became such an important part of my life. It is no coincidence the number of close friends I have that developed through Google Reader. And how close they all are to me.
And this, at its core, it what I shall miss the most. The friendship and the intimacy. The things I learned from people, and how it influenced me and changed me as a person (and make no mistake: google reader really has impacted upon the evolution of my political beliefs for starters, but I also my character as a whole), and these are things that shall not be able to occur anymore. Even the minor things – the little jokes (watching Team BEAR! longstanding squabbles with upstarts perhaps being the most longstanding one I’d had the pleasure to both observe from the outside and occasionally mock) – had the opportunity to brighten up my day, and put a smile on my face. It was certainly not a substitute for a social life, but it was a damn good complement to one.
And, to twist the knife in deeper, there is the fact that I am convinced that without Reader I would be not so fortunate as to be dating the brilliant and wonderful girl that I am. It is like finding that the special romantic place whose memories you cherish deeply is being torn down and destroyed and replaced with a car park.
There is no doubt that this comes across as overly melodramatic to an outsider, but I can not deny just how utterly devastated I am by this, how much I relied on it in my social life, and how much a gaping void has appeared in my life that I do not know how to fill.
Vale Google Reader, you were killed long before your prime.