Google Reader’s uncermonious dismantling has long been the beginning of my loss of faith in Google as a “do no evil” company. This TechCrunch article, “Google revives RSS” is disturbing on many levels. For one thing, RSS is not dead despite Google’s multiple attempts to kill it. For another, Google has shown over and over again, it can’t be trusted not to ditch any product that isn’t bringing in boatloads of cash.
Google did so much damage to RSS, the thought of them “reviving” it is analogous to Exxon reviving the site of some huge oil spill, one that they didn’t contribute to cleaning up. Even worse, browser vendors have no place trying to provide the user interface for RSS. Another toxic dump site. If Google wants to help RSS, great — here’s how. Do the subscribe button, that’s a good thing. But the result should be a dynamic OPML subscription list, that the user can provide to any reader app they want. It’s dynamic in that the contents can change, and the readers should periodically check to see if feeds have been added or removed. This way, if someday Google abandons RSS, again, everything can keep on ticking, more or less. Inviting users to rely on them shows that they have no sense of responsibility for the trust they betrayed in the past.
Hurray for supporting RSS but it’s not dead and it certainly won’t be after Google decides to drop it once again.