We are gathered here today to mourn the death of Google Reader, the foremost Really Simple Syndicator, the Keeper of the FeedBurner Feeds, the Lord of the Unread Count. The service has joined Jaiku, Google Buzz, and Knol in the Google Graveyard, where it shall rest until Slate — the graveyard’s groundskeeper — changes its content management system and all of those virtual tombstones are relegated to a digital oblivion. If you will please be seated, we can begin.
Reader was never Google’s favorite service. It was marked for death since its introduction, forced to watch as its creator hung a sign that said “days until cancellation” above its virtual crib. But somehow, against all odds, Reader managed to grow and become a backbone of the Web, a platform upon which many other apps and services were built. Reader may have been born without love, but it leaves this world as a beautiful, mature service that made so many readers — small “R” — happy.
Do you remember all of the good times you had with Reader? All of the long nights spent poring through every update it had gathered for you? All of the apps you connected to its servers so that you could read on the subway, or during your lunch break, or while you were out to dinner with your aunt? Reader remembered.
Reader also remembered all of those times you decided to mark everything as read after it had spent an entire day scraping through feeds and collecting thousands of links just so you could come home from work and enjoy a bit of light reading. It remembered how quickly you abandoned it for Flipboard, or Prismatic, or even its asshole cousin, Google Currents, because you just couldn’t handle all of those subscriptions anymore. You wanted to know what your friends were reading. You wanted to have the best articles posted each day carefully selected and presented in a visual, magazine-like interface.
You wanted to replace poor, old Reader with some tarted-up trollop you met in the App Store.
And now many of you are pretending to mourn the service’s demise even as you turn to Feedly or Digg Reader or FeedWrangler for all of your RSS-reading needs. Most of you didn’t even wait for Reader’s servers to go cold before you started muttering about which service you’d replace it with. But Reader didn’t mind. It dutifully gathered all of those posts about the “best Google Reader replacements” and the debate surrounding RSS and its health, just in case you wanted to stop by for one last reading session. You probably didn’t.
On its deathbed, Reader’s last wish was for all of you to know that it forgives you. That it’s been relieved to see so many startups and services dig through its closets and try to dress themselves up the way it used to look, so that you could find comfort even after it knew that it would have to head up to the farm where your parents took your childhood pet after it started sleeping a lot. It wanted you all to know that it loved you, and that it hopes you’ll be able to move on — so long as you treat the next service a little better.
It also wanted this song to be played. So here it is, the burial song of Google Reader, the service that totally changed Web publishing, the Filler of Coffee Breaks, the Purveyor of Hyperlinks:
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]