Google Reader: What Does the Internet OWE us?

Google Reader


All through my newsfeed today, friends and internet acquaintances were aghast at Google’s decision to dissolve Google Reader.

“I demand justification, Google,” wrote one.

“We must fight to save it,” wrote another.

Not to poo-poo their righteous indignation too much (today also marked the day when Veronica Mars the Movie got Crowdfunded in less than 24 hours. ZOMG so internet peeps certainly have a voice), but we are all leasing, never to own. Facebook. Twitter. Google Reader. None of us have any control over these platforms.  We enjoy them to stay connected to friends and loved one and our favorite online columnists, but you have to know that you’re on borrowed time. If the platform becomes unprofitable or no longer is part of a site’s strategic vision, to quote my favorite White Sox announcer, HE GONE.

Earlier this year, EveryBlock, owned by NBC closed it’s doors without any sort of notice. All the relationships that users had created through the years were gone. They didn’t even have time to send new contact details. There was similar outrage at the time. At least Google is giving users’ notice.

But, there’s an important lesson in this that I hope people see through their anger: we own our online platforms as much as we own the television shows we adore e.g. we don’t own them at all. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy them – but please — save your precious photos in the cloud  or on a disk. Don’t use Facebook or Snapfish as your storage. And, if you meet a great personality online, get their real contact info. You never know what will be here tomorrow.