Ten years ago, Google cancelled its Reader service, which was used for following news and blogs across the web. It was a great tool with a loyal following, but Google shut it down anyway. I used Reader heavily and, like many other former users, I haven’t found a good replacement a decade later.
For me, the end of Reader marked the end of the social web (aka Web 2.0) and its associated ideas: openness, compatibility, independence. It also meant that many people lost the ability to keep up with the world in one place. The web has remained a fragmented space dominated by ad-supported walled gardens ever since.
Tools like Reader ended up sharing its fate, mostly because of incentives (and sometimes mismanagement). There are far more casual users than power users on the web. Not everyone follows dozens of news feeds. That’s why alternatives to Reader didn’t go anywhere. Google gave Reader away for free and used scale to make it an excellent product. It’s hard to replicate or compete with that.
The core problem solved by Reader hasn’t gone away. If anything, it’s worse. These days, I need to follow blogs, newsletters, Twitter, and many other sources to stay current. There’s too much information, only some of it relevant, almost none of it organized. I thought about this problem for the better part of a decade. It’s time to solve it.
I’ve started work on a project for following, curating, and interacting with the web. It combines in a simple interface the best parts of Google Reader and other power tools for the web. I’m planning to launch it in a few months, in time for the 10-year anniversary of Reader’s shutdown. More updates soon.