Did you know Google Reader actually drives more traffic than Google+? Fact. I confess, I don't use any RSS service, but the news Google Reader will shut down on July 1 has sent shock waves across the Internet.
Of course, there is a petition up at Change.org to save the service. One signer of the petition, Mathew Chellew writes, "This is my newspaper. This is how I learn about things to talk about with my friends and colleagues during the day. This is worse than the near-extinction of paper news for people who want to be informed and learn." You can also chime in on the impending doom on Twitter at #googlereaderapocalypse.
Google claims ending the service is largely due to declining use, but Nick Biston at New York Times blog suggests the move may also be an attempt to encourage users to switch to using Google+ to enable better tracking of users.
Farhad Manjoo of Slate believes we should see the death of Google Reader as a wake-up call and seriously consider the monetary value of the software we use. He explains, "It’s not a good idea to hook up with every great app that comes along, even if it’s terrifically innovative and mind-bogglingly cheap or even free. Indeed, you should be especially wary if something seems too cheap. That’s because software is expensive. To build and maintain the best software requires engineering and design talent that will only stick around when a company has an obvious way to make money."
Google has built a culture priding themselves on the ability to provide the most and best for free. Millennials are growing into an internet where we are starting to understand we may need to help subsidize good things if we want them to stick around. We are open to pitching some money at Kickstarting a band's first album or paying a few bucks for an app providing a reliable service.
For those who do use RSS feeds, there are alternatives including Feedly and The Old Reader. I personally found RSS feeds a daunting way to follow news and ditched it long ago for Twitter. And who knows, Google Reader's departure may be the inspiration someone needs to create a service to meet the needs of a herd of anxious subscribers.