With all the online furore surrounding Google's decision to kill off Google Reader – one of the more well-known and oft-used RSS readers of the past many years — there's one person who doesn't really seem to care that Google's pulling the plug on the app. And, one could argue, delivering a huge blow to the future of RSS in doing so.
That man is, of course, one of the original contributors to RSS syndication as a whole and the creator of the RSS 2.0 format that's most widely used today, Dave Winer. According to the pundit, software developer, and editor of the famed Scripting News blog – if not one of the early contributors to the entire concept of blogging itself — the concept of having a "mailbox" for news never quite fit with him.
That, and he's not the biggest Google supporter.
"I won't miss it. Never used the damn thing. Didn't trust the idea of a big company like Google's interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news," Winer wrote.
"Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on. Those have a better chance of surviving the bubbles," Winer added.
Winer, who ended up having to disable comments on his related blog post as a result of their vitriol (he's never been a huge fan of the concept of blog comments anyway, it seems), explains that he feels as if Google is looking to do to news what companies like Apple have done to apps or Twitter has done to real-time information. Which is to say, restrict access to subscription news on a free level and generate some kind of business incentive for companies or users that want to continue to participate in such a process.
However, other pundits – like PayPal cofounder Max Levchin – disagree with Winer's suggested future.
"RSS has a decentralised pub/sub model; the format has been open and stable for a long time; the addressing scheme has no reliance on a specific client. How does the death of one, particularly good even, client, carry with it a threat to the whole ecosystem?" asked Levchin in an email conversation with Winer, posted to Winer's Scripting News blog.
GigaOm's Mathew Ingram don't see the loss of Google Reader as the death of RSS per se but, rather, an indication that real-time news has simply transitioned from the subscription model to the social space. That, and RSS isn't going to go away – as Ingram and Winer suggest, a new service might very well just rise up to take the place Google Reader prominently held (and many are already pining away to do so, including Digg, which is now working to build its own Reader-like app.)
"I still think RSS is a crucial part of the plumbing that underlies the web — and I hope the death of Google Reader isn't the beginning of an attack on RSS, as some suspect — but for me it lacks a certain something, and that something is the element of social interaction," Winer wrote.
Of course, try telling that to the 100,000-plus people who are trying to use an online petition to get Google to change its mind about Reader.