In part of what it calls “spring cleaning,” Google is sending its content aggregator Google Reader out to the landfill.
The company blamed declining usage, though noted that Reader “has a loyal following” — and that loyal following isn’t taking this lying down. More than 100,000 people have signed online petitions to keep the Reader. But euthanizing the Reader is a reminder that although many of us get dependent on online tools, big Internet companies can change the rules at any time.
“Look, Google works for Google,” says Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of the The Googlization of Everything. “Google doesn’t work for us, it doesn’t work the for the government, it doesn’t answer to our needs as citizens.”
Vaidhyanathan sees the Reader’s death sentence as a sign Google isn’t that interested in what we call the World Wide Web. He argues Google, like Facebook, wants to be the web.
“Google is deciding to double-down on its vision for being the operating system of our lives, not just the operating system of the web,” Vaidhyanathan says. “The web may be something we think of as a sort of quaint medium in 10 years.”
In the meantime, other companies are jumping in to fill the impending gap. The startup Feedly is quickly finishing up an alternative.