You may not remember the first time you used Google- it has become such an integral part of our lives and the way we use the Internet, sometimes it seems like it has always been with us- but I do. It was spring of 1999, in Goose’s room at 8 Webster Ave, Hanover NH. For all his foibles, Goose was always at the forefront of the latest and greatest in technology, before tech blogs even existed. He knew how to make web pages (which seemed at the time like wizardry) and he was great at finding music and other sorts of entertainment, too. His secret was Google. I remember seeing the minimalist screen on his monitor, a departure from the busy, cluttered search engine options like Lycos, Excite, Webcrawler, and AltaVista. And from the beginning, it just worked better than the others. This was just after the two Stanford grad students had moved their eight employee company and its servers out of their garage office, before they’d secured the venture capital that would start the company’s incredible growth.
I’ve been enamored with Google products ever since. Be it Gmail, Google Docs, and even Google Wave, I’ve always tried to get in as early as possible and been an advocate for their vision for an open web. There is no other company in the world that is so entwined with my existence or I identify with as strongly- which is why I felt such disappointment at the announcement that they are killing Google Reader, the company’s web and mobile RSS client that allows me to keep up with my favorite websites in one place.
RSS is a technology that pushes new posts from blogs like Aleheads out automatically. It lets me sift through a truly dizzying amount of beer-related content produced every day from bloggers all over the world. It is the backbone behind podcasting, which will slowly but surely kill radio and television as we know it.
Despite its simplicity and utility, the tech world has never been able to monetize RSS and so Reader is being put down more unceremoniously than Old Yeller. They want to push users over to Google+, the company’s social network that is a direct competitor to Facebook.
So far, this announcement among the blogosphere is going over like the proverbially turd in the punchbowl. And with good reason- the people who create all the content you waste your employer’s money reading all day utilize Google Reader to find the newest and most interesting stuff online. Despite the furor, I don’t expect petitions to change anything. The engineers that craft such elegant products have already crunched the numbers, and Reader’s time is at an end. For a company whose visions used to include organizing all the world’s information, focus on the user, and don’t be evil, I think they are making a tremendous mistake. There are other options for RSS readers, of course, but I’m sad to be unceremoniously dumped from the Google universe.
So what does this have to do with beer? Not much. But here are ten great beer blogs and websites I (used to) visit whenever they published new content through Google Reader:
- Beerpulse– Adam Nason updates the world’s premier beer news site roughly every 15 minutes. If I didn’t have RSS for this site, I don’t know what I would do. And I guarantee you, Adam is going to be pissed. How he is supposed to cull through as many blogs and feeds as he does without Google Reader, I have no idea.
- The New School– Local blog that covers the burgeoning Portland beer scene. Great photos and videos as well.
- A Good Beer Blog– It is what it says. One of the grand-daddies of the beer blogging world. Alan is quirky, and always looks at issues in an interesting way.
- Zythophile– Martyn Cornell produces the most fascinating and well-researched beer blog on the web. Beer history at it’s finest, at least when he not wound up about something.
- Beervana– Another Portland beer writer, Jeff’s updates have been less frequent as he finishes up The Beer Bible. Still, a great voice and must-read blog.
- The Beercast– Our buddy Rich from Edinburgh, Scotland, is doing amazing work. Keeps me interested in beers and breweries I have never tried and have no reference for.
- Guys Drinking Beer– A Chicago trio that keep me posted on the latest in that area. I feel like we would get along nicely. They look at beer the same way we do!
- Conlin Beverage Consulting– The warrior poet of beer distributor consultants.
- The Mad Fermentationist– Somehow makes homebrew tasting notes utterly compelling. I will never know as much about beer as him, and I have come to peace with that.
- Appellation Beer– Stan Hieronymus. Hop guru. Great writer. Enough said.
This is a small percentage of the sites I follow through Google Reader. Visiting each site is not practical. Much of it I skim, the best of it I pass on to the other Aleheads, share, or I write about. It’s just a sad day. There are seriously organs in my body that are of less use to me than Google Reader. What does the spleen do again?
So thanks Google, for screwing over the blogging community that create the content you sell ads against. You’ve truly forgotten where you came from in the name of infinite growth and this user will not forget it going forward.