Sending quakes through the online community, Google has decided to shut down their reader project. Google Reader was built by Chris Wetherell in 2005 and was intended to aggregate a number of news feeds into one stream and thus making it easier to catch up on all your personalized sources of news.
Reader has become a much-used friend of mine, allowing me to keep up-to-date on a number of news sources in a reasonable amount of time, and also to explore the world of SEO as I commute on often-delayed Stockholm public transportation. Now that Google has decided to shut down this service, many like me are looking for alternatives and some, like digg, are looking to fill the gap that Reader will leave behind.
Other sites like Tech Crunch, Digital Trends and even cNet have been quick to provide us with an obituary, a little history and a number of alternatives to Reader. It seems that users are not ready to alter their habits though. Take a second and think about what Google is really trying to do. Google never takes an action without really thinking it through, and this one is brilliant.
Google made no secret at SMX West recently that authorship is a big advancement that Google is working towards.
Matt said several times that giving and flowing trust to people was definitely one of the things Google is working towards. (source: SugarRae)
When it comes to authorship Google wants you to think Google+. If you think about it, Google+ is a feed of authors that we choose to follow. It is also nice of us to put authors into categories and thus help Google build a relationship web between them. That way they can see who is actually being followed – either as the author of a topic relevant to the reader or only because they are friends or family members. If Google wanted us to rely more on authorship feeds instead of website feeds, they might just remove Reader and try to replace it with Google+ and it might actually work.
In recent days, I have started building my Google+ network and starting to follow the authors of the content on these sites rather than the sites themselves. I am now finding more information than I was before when using my RSS. The Google+ network allows me to follow the commentary of other authors as well as the authors themselves. It is not often that an author writes only for one publication or about one topic, so this is quite useful.
So my advice is to get on the authorship train. Get involved with the people who write the material that you enjoy reading. Engage with authors and ask questions and answer the questions of others. Google Reader was once the way I engaged with the web and websites, but if I were Google, I might now shut it down and encourage readers of news to become followers of the authors of the news. A pretty smart move!