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    Entries in crap (1)

    Thursday
    Mar142013

    Google Reader: The shelf-life of formerly good advice

    I've been having a instructive and fun time this week out at Ultimate Software's annual user conference called Ultimate Connections. It is always great to learn more about what one of the major technology providers in HR space is doing, to hear from and meet some real customers and practitioners, and even attempt to share some of my own ideas with the attendees.

    Yesterday I had that chance, along with the great John Sumser from HRexaminer and Ed Frauenheim from Workforce.com (and perhaps more famously of the Frauenheim Disclosure), in a conference session titled 'How to Stay Current on HR Trends'. The session was meant to be a kind or survey of tools, sources of information, time management approaches, and overall recommendations for the busy HR pro on how he or she can try to keep up and remain informed about the industry when faced with the simultaneous crush of mountains of content combined with a 'day job' that gets more time-crunched by the week.

    In the session, which was yesterday at 1:45PM Pacific Time, both John and I sung the praises of feed readers, specifically Google Reader, as a fantastic tool for the busy HR pro to try and sort, filter, scan, and consume professional content. I even tool it a step further, calling out smartphone apps like Flipboard and Zite, (my personal favorite), that help curate news and information and package it up attractively for on-the-go reading. Both of these apps are much more valuable and relevant when they have a Google Reader integration to provide a rich source of content that these apps find ways to make much user-friendly and provide a great interface.

    At 1:45 PM I was advocating for the HR pros in the room to give Google Reader a chance. At 5PM when I got back to my room, turned on the laptop, and IMMEDIATELY fired up Google Reader and BOOM - this message smacks me in the chops -

    Clicking 'Learn more' took me to a short blog post on the the Google support site that basically said Reader is being shut down on July 1, and had a link to another Google post that cited a decline in Reader usage and the company's desire to focus more energy on fewer products as the drivers behind the decision to kill off Reader.

    Reader has been around a really long time by Web standards, since 2005 or so, but (and as we saw in our session at the conference where very few attendees said they used Reader), never really caught on with the mainstream web users. And with the incredible growth of Facebook and Twitter, (and more and more LinkedIn), as sources of news and information, setting up and maintaining a deep, diverse, and relevant set of Reader subscriptions probably seemed like to big a chore for most users, and really boring for others.

    Either way, Google Reader is going away, and probably at least a few of the apps and services that had come to rely on a user's Reader subscriptions for the bulk of their content. Sure, there are other feed reading tools around - and perhaps even some new innovation will hit the space that Google is leaving, but make no mistake even in decline, Google Reader was the 500 pound gorilla in the space.

    I feel bad about the impending loss of my favorite tool on the web.

    I feel even worse that about 3 hours prior to the announcement, I advocated in the most strident way possible for a room full of hard working HR pros to get their Google Reader set up.

    That was good advice at the time I gave it.

    Now it's just formerly good advice.

    I hope the rest of the things I said in the session will stay relevant a little longer.