Google yesterday announced that it will shut down Google Reader. Supposedly, Google wants to focus all its attention on Google+. As a researcher, I depend on Google Reader for keeping up with the news, publications, case law, and anything else that has something to do with the topic of my research. I’ve linked it to other services with IFTTT (‘If This Then That’), which I strongly recommend. If I tag an item as ‘twitter’, it is automatically tweeted. If I star an item, it is sent to my Readability read later list so I can read it when I have time. When I read that Google Reader will be powered down, I was desperate for a moment.
Nothing compares to the clean design of Google Reader and its effectiveness when skimming through an endless list of articles. Feedly comes close though after applying some tips to make it feel more like Google Reader. The great thing about Feedly is that they have ‘cloned‘ the Google Reader API, which means that there is no need to import and export your feeds once Google Reader is offline. The transition should be be seamless. It could also imply that all services that are connected to Google Reader may continue to function in the future. All is not lost! Knowing a bit about intellectual property, I wonder whether it is legal to just copy the Google API. Under EU law, a literal copy of the lines of code that make up the API probably is a copyright infringement. If Feedly only mimics the functionality of the API, then there should be no problem for Feedly (see SAS Institute Inc. v World Programming). Maybe Google and Feedly have already come to an agreement about the issue.
Anyway, let’s hope Google is open to continuing the Google Reader platform as an open source project so that the RSS-ecosystem stays intact. Maybe the White House will have a role to play in that?