Scripting News: Let’s not repeat the Google Reader mistake.

A picture named drum.gifWe’re getting ready to do the blogging part of our software at Small Picture. We’ve done a review of the evolution of my own blog, Scripting News, over the years. It was good to go over it, because it became clear that as Google Reader came to dominate in feed reading, it forced my blog, and presumably many others, to conform to its limits. Features were removed from my blog because they confused Google Reader. And when we tried to reach out to them, the answer was that they didn’t have enough people on their team to listen. When that I happened I knew we were in a bad place.

But now we’re seeing a rebirth of blogging software, other people have noted it, not just me. And along with it, later in the process, perhaps we can have a rebirth of feed aggregators. But we can’t do it if a single company dominates the reader market. Yet some reports indicate that’s where we’re going.

I have a plan, if that should happen, if on July 1 we substitute one dominant feed reader for another. My products will produce full-fidelity RSS, that gives us and our users the chance to be fully creative, as we were in the early days of blogging and feed-reading. We won’t try to live within the limits of a dominant feed reader. If they can’t read our feeds, sorry.

Users say “oh we’re just users we can do what we want.” That’s nice, but not true. It’s like saying I’m a car driver, I don’t care about climate change, so I can burn as much fuel as I want. Yeah, I suppose it’s true. There is no law that limits the amount of carbon you burn. But someday you or your kids will not be able to breathe. Same with RSS and blogging. If you want to keep using this stuff, you can’t just repeat the same mistake. The new dominant player may be very nice, the people may have good hearts, and mean well, but they might be holding back innovation — or worse, as Google was, taking out innovation and forcing a kind of dull no-growth uniformity.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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