If you are reading blogs like mine via an RSS Feed Reader you've probably heard by now that Google wants to shut down their popular Google Reader in a couple of months. Being a Google Reader user myself I was disappointed at first because it is a great service, works well and using it is part of my daily routine. What I like(d) is that I can read posts on my mobile and on the desktop and that the reading status is synchronized between both. But then I realized that while this is disappointing news it is also a big chance for me and the web as a whole as well.
Some background on my usage behavior: Apart from Google's search engine and the Android market, Google Reader is (will have been) the only service I use from Google. I intentionally don't use Google online apps such as Google docs, their online calendar and address book synchronization, no gmail or any other online service from them. My private data is mine and I don't want to store that unencrypted or encrypted with the key being held by the online service on some far away server. Instead I use Owncloud with a tiny Rasperry Pi at home for sharing files and lots of other stuff (more details in a separate post soon). For backups I do indeed use a cloud drive, but all data is encrypted before it leaves my network with an encryption key only I posses.
Back to Google Reader. It's one of the few cloud based service I use in which private data is stored. And in Google Reader the amount of private data is limited to the feeds that I have subscribed to and my reading behavior. So while it's sad to see the service go it's also a chance for the web and myself to think about alternatives. Today there seem to be few as many RSS feed readers use Google Reader's API. But the programmers of some of them have already responded that they will make themselves independent of Google before their API goes out of service. I have high hopes that the OwnCloud RSS Feed Aggregator (Owncloud News) is being extended in time so I can use it on the desktop and also via a mobile web browser or an app.
So with a bit of luck Google's move will bring back diversity and give those who want a free, open and decentralized Internet real choices in the future.
Good luck Google, and thanks for all the fish!