RSS readers take raw feeds of data—headline, text, timestamp, etc.—and display that information in a stripped-down interface along with many other feeds, which is what makes them so efficient. (Here is the RSS feed for Quartz.) Less obvious is how many RSS readers, including Google’s, serve as anti-censorship tools for people living under oppressive regimes. That’s because it’s actually Google’s servers, located in the U.S. or another country with uncensored internet, that accesses each feed. So a web user in Iran just needs access to google.com/reader in order to read websites that would otherwise be blocked.
Expiration date set for July 1, 2013.
Google Reader is the web application page that I access most by an unbelievable margin. Even more so than reading and posting on this frequently updated web spot here. Hours a day are spent in it, collecting posts to share, starring others to stash for a in-depth perusal later, searching for topics of interest. And I am not alone in this regard, as others are also presently expressing their discontent over this development.
Some, on the other hand, believe this to be excellent news.
Google Reader is a convenient way to sync between our RSS clients today, but back when it was launched in 2005 (before iPhones), it destroyed the market for desktop RSS clients. Client innovation completely stopped for a few years until iOS made it a market again — but every major iOS RSS client is still dependent on Google Reader for feed crawling and sync.
This is a gross misunderstanding on how Google Reader RSS feeds are consumed by avid users. The power of RSS is that it magnifies one’s agility and speed in viewing vast amounts of content scattered amongst colossal numbers of sites. Granted, not everybody has a subscription total of 3,408 like I do, but I venture that for any total less than a couple hundred, there really is not a great benefit in RSS consumption, other than as a ticker toggle alerting you that something new is now available for your perusal. The greater plus is the capability to rapidly traverse articles that would be simply inconceivable from just a list of bookmarks. Having some feeds arranged on a mobile device is groovy and all, but real news feed reading happens on a computer with a keyboard. And the ability to search for a topical phrase, person or reference and quickly locate a recent article containing that text. Confined only to those sites that you actually care about.
Desktop clients have always sucked — since the inception of RSS. Entering more than a 100 feeds or so results in a sputtering smoking CPU that stalls under the load. This is a utility that cries out for a web application. And Google Reader, despite languishing for the past several years, still shines like no other RSS client. At least in the principle matter of accessing and reading feeds. I, nor any avid RSS feed consumer, cares about schmaltzy magazine layouts or predictive AI that discovers new feeds. Simply put, I just want to enter the sites I am interested in, read feeds in a chronological order, and search for things I am curious about.
Now, we’ll be forced to fill the hole that Reader will leave behind, and there’s no immediately obvious alternative. We’re finally likely to see substantial innovation and competition in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms for the first time in almost a decade.
I hope this is true.
But as stated, Google Reader has languished for the past few years, yet there has been no real competition here even though most all had a whiff of what was coming after the arrival of Google+. Moreover, there is the archival factor — it is not just about collecting and reading feeds, it is about the ability to scroll back through history. A typical blog feed only shows the last n items, a value of 10 or maybe a few dozen tops. So it will be a state of tabula rasa for any up and coming application (be it desktop or web), sans anything before the 2013 (or late 2012) cutoff date. In Google Reader, I can click on a feed and flip through 8 years of item history.
Of course, there are those who will be eager to chime in that users of a free service have no grounds for griping. My recourse here is that this is an important web utility that might only be able to be serviced by an entity with the resources of Google. Searching and storage have hefty costs, as those who eagerly shriek at the whining “Bring back Google Reader!” freeloaders will deem. I cannot envision a “for profit” commercial entity eluding the cost prohibitive nature of such an endeavor (done properly). Maybe, Google could open source the application stack and gift a foundation money to carry on the service.
For an outfit that once branded itself “don’t be evil”, Google is certainly doing its damnedest to fulfill the reverse. What’s next? Gmail? Is it all just a procession to funnel all users into Google+?
Google wants you to know you’re being watched. Or rather, the company wants you to know how and when the police get to watch what you do online.
For the first time, the company has posted its policies for when it gives up your information to the government. It’s part of a broader company strategy to push for tougher privacy laws.
Spreading Santorum, the website that helped popularize Dan Savage’s alternative meaning, was stripped of its top search result status two nights ago…
SearchEngineLand took a wonky look at what exactly happened, and came back with a pretty troubling response.
It seems Google has been working behind the scenes to implement new SafeSearch features that are left on even when you’ve turned SafeSearch off. One of these features prevents “adult” results from showing up when Google has deemed them irrelevant to the search.
In other words, if you’ve searched “Santorum,” Google “assumes” you’re not looking for frothy fecaled lube, but for the presidential candidate.
Another newly implemented feature aims to return “official sites” as the most relevant search result, and Google again “assumes” that Spreading Santorum is not Rick Santorum’s official site.
Now that it’s conquered all seven continents, mapped the Amazon, some rivers in the United States, caves, the ruins of Pompeii and captured snapshots of naked women, Google Street View’s next expedition will turn its lens on the mysteries of the deep when it goes under the sea.
Facebook made $3.2 billion in advertising revenue last year, 85 percent of its total revenue. Yet Facebook’s inventory of data and its revenue from advertising are small potatoes compared to some others. Google took in more than 10 times as much, with an estimated $36.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, by analyzing what people sent over Gmail and what they searched on the Web, and then using that data to sell ads. […]
Material mined online has been used against people battling for child custody or defending themselves in criminal cases. LexisNexis has a product called Accurint for Law Enforcement, which gives government agents information about what people do on social networks. The Internal Revenue Service searches Facebook and MySpace for evidence of tax evaders’ income and whereabouts, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been known to scrutinize photos and posts to confirm family relationships or weed out sham marriages. Employers sometimes decide whether to hire people based on their online profiles, with one study indicating that 70 percent of recruiters and human resource professionals in the United States have rejected candidates based on data found online. […]
Stereotyping is alive and well in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data — what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you’ve looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.”
Even though laws allow people to challenge false information in credit reports, there are no laws that require data aggregators to reveal what they know about you. If I’ve Googled “diabetes” for a friend or “date rape drugs” for a mystery I’m writing, data aggregators assume those searches reflect my own health and proclivities. Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules. […]
In the 1970s, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University named John McKnight popularized the term “redlining” to describe the failure of banks, insurers and other institutions to offer their services to inner city neighborhoods. The term came from the practice of bank officials who drew a red line on a map to indicate where they wouldn’t invest. But use of the term expanded to cover a wide array of racially discriminatory practices, such as not offering home loans to African-Americans, even those who were wealthy or middle class.
Now the map used in redlining is not a geographic map, but the map of your travels across the Web. The term Weblining describes the practice of denying people opportunities based on their digital selves. You might be refused health insurance based on a Google search you did about a medical condition. You might be shown a credit card with a lower credit limit, not because of your credit history, but because of your race, sex or ZIP code or the types of Web sites you visit.
Google announced Tuesday that it will integrate users’ information across Gmail, YouTube, search and 57 other Google services.
Google privacy director Alma Whitten, who explained the changes in a company blog post released in the afternoon, said the company will “treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”
What is Google doing? In a nutshell, Google is taking information from almost all of your Google services — including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and search — and integrating the data so that they can learn more about you. (Information from Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome will not be integrated, partly for legal reasons.)
Gautham Nagesh for The Hill - Eight of the largest Web companies have endorsed an online piracy bill offered by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) as an alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart PROTECT IP.
The OPEN Act would direct online patent infringement claims against foreign websites to the International Trade Commission, which would be authorized to order online ad networks and payment processors to sever ties with the rogue foreign sites.
We did it, you guys!
I’ll give you a hint: Facebook.