The implications Google perhaps does not see with Reader

Google, of course, knows a lot about me, they know what I search for online, via Google Docs they know a lot about my interests, via my old Blogger site they have a record of my personal development for a couple of years, they know my friends and family via Android contacts and much more.

However, the announcement to close Google Reader has got me thinking that it is perhaps a sign of how a multinational, living in the era of ‘Big Data’, can struggle to engage with their users and thus fail them horribly.  This failure is unlikely to impact hugely on Google’s bottom line (as savegooglereader.org has picked up they could get over a lot of the bad PR just by spinning it off into a different company)  but enough failures, over a length of time, and they will start to notice loss of customers and that would, eventually, hit the bottom line.  Google infamously has not supported users in the traditional sense, most services offering a Google Group or other limited form of a manual with the expectation being that by using search someone will have posted an answer to customer queries.  Similarly, updates have been rather ad hoc and forced upon people (although Google Apps for Education and some other services have started to alert users better) and I do not remember ever seeing a traditional survey from Google.

Reader is perhaps the single most important website in my life – it aggregates some personal information (local news sites), entertainment (podcasts via RSS), and formal (journals) and more informal (blogs, etc) professional reading.  There are also a host of notifications setup with Page2RSS.  Sure I use Twitter to keep up with some things and LinkedIn and Facebook but only in the same way that I go directly to the BBC and Guardian.  Virtually everything else is via RSS and Google Reader.  If they needed to make money out of Reader they could have, adverts for additional journals and news sites would have been relatively easy to map out from my folders and the titles of read stories.

Personally I am holding off transferring away from Reader to see how the playing field levels out – not least as it is a clear opportunity for Microsoft to build something with a great W8 app, but also cross browser compatibility, to take on the crown of the champion of RSS.  Indeed the live tile approach and RSS could merge quite nicely (and perhaps already does with some apps?) and Reader already works better in WP8 IE than it did on my old Android phone.

All in all, it is another reason to use Google products less often and as I posted previously they probably do not care but it means:

  • Phone – I bought my Windows8 phone as something of an experiment but in many ways I prefer it over Android.  I doubt I will go back, the UI is great and most things I need to do I can.
  • Calendar – I have continued to use as WP8 very nicely allows you to import Android contacts and access Google and Yahoo services via the phone in unified interfaces – Microsoft playing ball with everyone else more than Google.  Who’d have thought it!
  • Docs – I still use Google Docs (sorry Drive) but things on my phone also go to Skydrive.  Docs is really the only area Google has me locked in.
  • Search – Google still often seems to trump Bing (on my phone) so I do not expect to switch from Google here but I could and I doubt it would make too much difference.
  • Video – YouTube is still the first port of call but SlideShare and others are stepping up.  Kudos to the YT team though for the improvements over subscriptions as I now visit daily to check what is new and use my ‘watch later’ list.
  • RSS – lets wait and see what happens in the next month or so but by cutting off Reader at the very least Google pushes Audio users away to podcasts via iTunes.
  • Google Alerts – I have a few of these setup, perhaps one G product to benefit in that it might gain some use away from Page2RSS and other alerts.

On previous blogs I have posted on my current tech usage – it will be interesting to reflect on what the GR changes mean in a few months time.

Reflecting on some recent Tweets & Google+ Shares

Whilst I log some of my personal development here I do not intend to consider everything I do, including reading.

Instead I will often share my reading via other networks.  Why?

Reading

  1. Most of my professional reading is via Google Reader.  I previously setup the option to push ‘shares’ in Reader to Twitter.  When Google+ launched this stopped working.  If I see something particularly interesting I will still share it in my ‘Work Related’ circle…just in case anyone is interested.  Its easy to do and at least allows my Google+ profile to have some use.
  2. Websites.  If something leads to me having a question or is something I think my Twitter followers might be interested in (especially if it is from a source they might not read) I will share there from time-to-time.

Tweets

  1. I do not tweet often, usually limiting it to live tweeting of events – with more in-depth reflections later in blog posts.
  2. Reflection on some particular tweets:

“Virtual classrooms are a response to austerity” http://soc.li/MIjMeod  “Virtual learning cannot replace the learning…of a classroom” …wow some old arguments there. Sounds like someone needs a friendly Learning Technologist to show them how. Also ignores student demand.

This was really just a reaction to The Globe and Mail (a paper I used to read now and again) choosing to publish what effectively seemed to be some ranting about a workplace…without much evidence of a justified argument.

#bett_latw great presentation on global l&d, another arguing for curation over creation.

The official hashtag for BETT Learning At Work was quite quiet so I tried to post a few summaries for anyone following.  The rising importance of curation was a theme – as picked up prior to Learning Technologies/BETT.

Opening talk of #BETT_LatW reminded me of the silly Idiocracy movie, suggestions of attention problems and obesity in the future world.

The presentation was excellent at considering the brain and the science behind learning.  This post was a little bit of fun as I doubt the Baroness would be a fan of the movie.

Leaving #lt13 exhibition – good catchup but nothing hugely new. Or did I miss something? Or a sign of things bedding down and maturing?

The Learning Technology and BETT shows seemed to suffer from multiplication of different hashtags.  Therefore, not many people may have seen this – I did get one reply confirming my feeling.  Other posts confirmed that people are concentrating on the learning outcomes rather than tech for tech’s sake.

Some #lt13 exhibition delegates VERY keen. Perhaps the security staff were just doing what they’ve been trained to do?

This was me being a bit bitchy – which is rare I would say.  I was simply blown away by how rude people were being to the Olympia staff  – would opening five minutes late really make much difference?  Do you have to be the first person in the lift?  I’m still presuming/hoping the worse culprits are not Human Resources professionals.

@ldnoverground part suspended. No crystal palace service.

Apologies to any Twitter followers that my rule of keeping it professional (with most personal/private stuff elsewhere – i.e. Facebook) is starting to slip.  If only because what was the East London Line now seems so badly served by London Overground information services.  I find Twitter hugely useful for getting around London when there are problems and will try to contribute.

Quick bit of reflection on the #6TrendsLD webinar yesterday… http://bit.ly/T05Ili

Finally, for now, a tweet which was a rare bit of advertisement for this site.  I’m still torn between if this site should aim explicitly to be useful for others or just be my random thoughts, if anyone reads this far do let me know what you think!