Lesson: Stop relying on Google

200px-Google_Reader_logoGoogle announced yesterday that they are shutting down Google Reader.

Devastating!!

I use Google Reader as a one stop place to monitor:

  • new blog posts from friends and family
  • to monitor dozens of news sites for forestry news for ForestTalk.com
  • updates from tech and business blogs
  • new post feeds from forums – both my own, forums I visit regularly, and forums I visit only if I see a good topic come up in Google Reader

This is symptom of a growing problem – relying on external services.

RSS feeds aren’t used by the majority of web users, and the number is decreasing, so Google is dropping the service. Unfortunately this is happening after Google obliterated the competition.  There is no other comparable service left in existence.

So many people are using magazine style readers, that organize the feeds you subscribe to into a magazine with blocky layouts, photos, with social sharing built in, including the feature to receive the news based on what other people are reading.  These look pretty on an iPad, but are the symptom of a large problem.

The dumbing down of the world.

I don’t give a hoot what other people are reading.  I want my feeds, I want them in text, and I organized in folders I specify. I want to be able to quickly scan headlines, delete what I’m not interested in, read what looks interesting, and save items for later if they need more attention or follow up.

So I’m done with relying on other companies.

I just downloaded the open source Tiny Tiny RSS software and installed it on my server.  Now I have my own feed reader and I am in control.  I’m only an hour in, but this looks like a solid Google Reader replacement.

With such a growing reliance on external services, people are going to be left high and dry without their data.  I use my own blog to record my life digitally. It is mine, I control the data and how I want it displayed. Everyone who uses Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Instagram to store/share their life updates are going to be left without a legacy.  Mine is in my blog, on my server – I can print it, publish it as a book, store text copies, manage my photos, etc.

And while I’m on a rant roll, and thinking of the dumbing down of the world, how will we ensure our future has any coders?  You don’t have to code anything anymore.  How will these open source projects like Tiny Tiny RSS grow and expand when no one learns how to code anymore?

It is so easy to have a great looking website now without ever having to learn to code. So people don’t. Now you have can a web design empire and never even learn how to edit HTML or CSS.

Scary.

People are so quick to settle on what is available, or what everyone else is using. If I don’t like what I’m dealt, I’m going to find a way to re-code an open source tool, or I’m going to program my own.  Will there even be enough programmers in the future to contribute to the growth of open source programs?

I was taught coding starting in grade 6 or 7 in the mid-80’s, all the way through high school, and into University.  We started with programming a little toy robot on the classroom floor, teaching it how to get from point A to point B.  I progressed through Basic and Pascal and into complex decision making logic in University. I taught myself more programming languages to do new things, including Perl, PHP, and Javascript. Learning how to code taught me how to problem solve, how to troubleshoot, and how to think!

Here is the best video of the year so far from Code.org:

There is one other Google tool, other than GMail, that I’m overly reliant on, and that is Google News Alerts. I use it to notify me whenever there is news post anywhere on keywords and phrases I choose.  Any ideas for replacement? Because I don’t trust Google to keep this service alive.

Lisa

Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

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