Thursday, March 14, 2013

Free but not cheap (or trustworthy)


My days as a heavy reader of RSS-supplied blogs are mostly in the past. Twitter has long since supplanted a carefully tuned “pub blogs” folder in my Google Reader, and I haven’t actually used the Reader interface to read blogs for a couple years (Feed Demon, Feedler, Reeder, NetNewsWire, and others have been my front ends of choice). However, like many others if Twitter and Facebook yesterday evening are to be believed, I use  Reader every day—even if only as the backend, syncing and managing the various RSS feeds.

I’ll need to find another solution by July 1, because Google is shuttering Reader—a service that clearly has millions of regular nonpaying users. It strikes me that the lesson here is that this is the moment Reader ceases to be cheap, even though I remain a nonpaying user. True, I’m going to end my 8 year ride on Reader without giving Google a dime directly, but now I have to spend time finding a replacement—time I didn’t plan on spending.

What will I look for in a new feed syncing/RSS reading service? A fee. If Google couldn’t monetize this service by selling the users (because to Google, the users are the product to be sold, not the software) no one can. So I’m going to find a service on a different model, one where I am the customer, not the product.

It sounds weird, but I want to have fewer free things in my life. It’s cheaper that way.