Back in July of 2012, Google announced that its much-loved customizable homepage, iGoogle, would be shutting down in November of 2013. Along with others, I searched the heavens for further signs of the end times—a rain of toads, a column of fire, dogs and cats living together. Nothing. Apparently it was just a commercial decision by a large corporation that could no longer see a financial advantage in sustaining the iGoogle environment of widgets and gadgets and whatnot. Not a lot of ad revenue in widgets, I suppose (at least not the ones I was using).
Today, Google has announced that Google Reader—its RSS feed reader—will be shutting down in July 2013. I’ve checked the heavens and once again it appears this is just a corporate decision. Well then.
I’ve never loved Google Reader. It was only ever functional. When I would come across an RSS feed that I wanted to keep track of, I would “subscribe” to it in my Google Reader. It provided a means of grouping one’s RSS feeds, labelling them in a common fashion. But that was never truly useful since Google Reader’s user interface was never convenient for a quick scan of RSS items.
What was useful, however, was the fact that I could take an output feed from Google Reader—a conglomeration of all the RSS feeds to which I had subscribed within Google Reader—and feed it through an iGoogle gadget so that my entire set of RSS feeds would appear on my homepage in abbreviated form (just the feed title). I have no interest in reading the vast majority of items that appear in my RSS feeds. I just scan through the titles of the items and when I find one for which I would like to see the full content, I just click on it. Simple. When I’m done I mark all of the items “as read” and they are whisked away leaving me with a nice clean, empty, Google Reader gadget on my iGoogle homepage waiting for the next batch of items when they arrive.
I don’t suppose I am a big user of RSS feeds. I have 76 feeds currently in my Google Reader. Collectively they produce between 150 to 200 items in my Google Reader gadget on my iGoogle homepage per day. Of those, I probably look at maybe 10 or 15.
But now my need for finding a viable replacement for my iGoogle homepage just moved from “pending” to “urgent”. (Not panicky urgent, just ordinary urgent.) I already know about a few alternatives, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking that I should just do my own thing, probably within a Drupal installation on a site I already use.
Change comes to all of us, with or without heavenly signs. I just don’t enjoy being chivvied.