Twitter is abuzz right now with the news that Google will deactivate Google Reader on July 1. I haven’t sifted through all the conspiracy theories, hand-wringing and lamentations yet. I will. There will be blood. Nothing gets nerds more bestirred than the loss of free tools that work so well and with such single purpose that they disappear into the background like plumbing.
Come to think of it, that’s pretty much what this feels like. Google just told me that they are coming to my house on July 1 and removing all my plumbing. Sorry. We just áren’t doing plumbing anymore.
Okay, not exactly, but this isn’t the first time Google has taken away a tool that I found essential, useful and brilliant in its simplicity. A few months ago, I lost Google Desktop, which for several years had been the easiest way to find anything in my work computer files. I file things pretty well but Google Desktop was a master tool because it indexed the fulltext of every document and every email on my hard drive. Major power. When I received a new laptop from work, I tried to reinstall the application only to learn that it had been discontinued months before. I have been limping along ever since with the Windows 7 native search feature. Useful but weak in comparison.
More recently, the migration from Google Docs to Google Drive broke some of my documents and made it hard to edit documents that started out as Word files. It took a while to realize that you can still save those documents as editable and shareable Google docs files. They just don’t make it obvious. I have since caught on. No big deal.
The loss of Google Reader is a bigger deal. I have been using Google Reader as my RSS aggregator for years. I particularly like the way it integrates with third party iOS apps like FeedlerPro. I’ve got a few months to research options. Lifehacker offers a few suggestions.
In the meantime, enjoy the firestorm on Twitter. The nerds are bestirred. Long live the nerds.