Google Reader is going away soon, so, with tears in my eyes, I decided to break up with Reader before it could break up with me. My rebound Android app is Feedly, which seems refreshingly easy-going — Feedly asked for only two taps to import all my stuff from Google, it started syncing my phone and tablet without being asked, and it let me pick up reading RSS and Atom feeds with it exactly where I’d left off a few minutes earlier with Reader.
This post isn’t really about Feedly, though, but about open specs and standards. The reason I can still keep reading all the same blogs, newspaper headlines, and status updates is that Google Reader didn’t control them — they’re publicly available on dozens or hundreds of independent web sites, all following the same set of simple, free syndication standards. Even the way Feedly imported my list of feeds is standards-based.
If I’d been reading all that information on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, or any other similar proprietary, centrally-controlled service, I wouldn’t be able to rebound so easily; even worse, if I’d been relying on one of those locked-in services to publish my content, it would have stolen my audience as well. Think of it as the equivalent of your ex knowing your bank card PIN, and emptying your accounts before running off.
I’ll stick with Feedly as long as we’re both having fun, but as soon as the relationship gets stale, we can part ways as friends and move on. While there may be only one Twitter or Facebook, there are lots of RSS/Atom feed readers out there.