Will Google Reader save Google+? Or will G+ ruin RSS?

Becca Rosen has an interesting piece at The Atlantic on Google+:

But two changes Google is making may put a bit of life back into the site. First, Google Reader, the company’s RSS aggregator, will soon be better integrated with the site. You’ll be able to share through Google+, not just through your Reader connections. For people who use Reader, the wall of separation between these two services has always been a frustration.

My first thought is that this could get me active on G+. I’m not very social with Reader (on purpose) but I still do use it. Even with Twitter as my main info feed throughout the day, Reader is my backstop; I check it once a week and make sure I don’t miss anything good. It’s still a staple for me. So the integration could in theory make G+ more appealing. I could see using it as a Tumblr-esque spot, for thoughts and interactions too long for Twitter or Facebook but too short or raw for a blog post.

But here’s Dave Winer, creator of RSS, on the dominance of Reader in the shrinking RSS market:

Google seems to have the power to either seriously injure RSS, or perhaps set it free. Not sure which would happen if they radically changed course. I just know that users have made the other RSS reading tools be dependent on it. And that’s not a great way to do things. What makes RSS useful is its power tode-centralize. To re-centralize it for a little convenience is to miss out on the variety that’s possible if you’re willing to suffer a bit. Software is full of tradeoffs.

He reports that there are rumors of big changes coming to Reader, and I’d imagine G+ integration is one of those. So count me as both nervous and curious. I can imagine Reader/G+ integration working for me, but that’s a small issue. More important is that RSS remains a vibrant technology. What Google does with Reader will have a big impact on the use of RSS.


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