People Like Free Things (and that’s okay)


I’m sad that Google Reader is going to be shut down. I really like Google Reader. I liked it even more before they stripped some of the social features out to sandbag it for Wave. 

Judging by my Twitter timeline and blog subscriptions, I’m in the minority. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that being sad Google Reader is going away means I’m a big entitled dummy who should pay for his web services and had it coming and what kind of dipshit is still using RSS when you can jack a Cortical Stimtex 9000 directly into your brainstem and control it from your Galaxy S4 with a RESTful API. Or something.

When I was in high school, the local alternative station played “End of the World” by R.E.M. in an endless loop the day they were shutting down. I listened for hours. That station was one of the first ways I discovered music beyond what my parents owned. But I wasn’t angry that the station shut down. I wasn’t confused. I didn’t think I was entitled to it being around forever. It was free. I liked it. It was going away. I was sad.

And that’s how I feel about Google Reader. Lots of great things on the internet are free. Barring an apocalyptic event or personal bad luck, I expect to live through the rise and fall of many more free web services that millions of people rely on. I’m totally okay with that. I’ll be sad when they shut down, too.

A lot of people are okay with using free things that work well enough. That’s not something you’re going to change by Tweeting “I told you so” (for free). I don’t know that it even should change.