March 30, 2013
Planned obsolescence has been a driver of our consumer culture since the Great Depression. I tend to resist it with respect to durable goods: my car is 12 years old and has over 200,000 miles on it, and my home repairs include appliance repairs, rather than replacements, whenever practical. However, the fast pace of technological development forces me to upgrade computers and related devices more frequently. I tend to buy high-powered desktop systems and use them for about five years, but I’ve been replacing my iPhone every two years and have frequently replaced my Kindle book readers and iPads.
The internet churns at an even faster pace. Companies and services come and go, with a long list of services I once relied upon which are now essentially defunct. I don’t particularly mourn dead online services like CompuServe or WebShots, but they certainly were useful to me in their day. But it is disruptive when the plug is pulled on a service you still rely upon. In a couple of weeks CableOne, my internet service provider, is pulling the plug on its webpages service, which forced me to relocate/recreate some websites with new providers. But what really has irked me is Google.
Google has a history of creating extremely useful free services, luring me into relying upon them, and then killing them off. This has happened with Google Notebook, will happen shortly with Google Reader, and will happen later this year with iGoogle. Slate has a nice Google Graveyard where you can put a flower on the graves of services you loved in their day.
I use iGoogle as my homepage, having set it up with a number of RSS feeds which show me the latest articles from a variety of favorite websites. That includes a list of articles pushed to me via Google Reader. I like to scan article headlines from certain sites and always read certain webcomics via Google Reader. Now I have to shift over to an alternate service for my RSS feeds and I might as well switch my homepage to a new service as well. What a pain! These services are not obsolete for me, even if many people now rely upon Twitter instead of RSS, dip into the random posts by their Facebook friends, or use FlipBoard and the like on tablets to see news articles.
I want to retain my one-screen listing of article headlines from my favorite sites which I can quickly scan each time I activate my desktop browser. So I’ve been looking at possible Google Reader replacements and the same for iGoogle, reading through one set of suggested alternatives after another, and there is an exhaustive listing if I get desperate.
Thus far I’m playing with igHome as an iGoogle replacement and it looks like Feedly is a good replacement for Google Reader, but no one has written a Feedly gadget for igHome yet, so I’ll keep using iGoogle and Google Reader/Feedly for now.