I sent this email to some friends yesterday and realized it should probably be a blog post.
This idea came in a roundabout way...
1. Google Reader has been sputtering lately.
2. Causing some users to be nervous.
3. They reach out to developers they know who care, including me. Asking if I can offer any help.
4. The only help I can offer is my mind. My programming resources are going elsewhere, and this is not the kind of job a person or a small team can approach. Because while news looks easy and simple, there are millions of feeds, and all must be read every so often or else the system doesn't work. It means you need fairly real capital to make this happen.
5. Either Google is or isn't going to continue to subsidize the news reading activity. Either way it's not good to be so dependent on them.
6. So I approach some famous tech companies, get a hearing, and am told there might be money available for this, but no interest in doing it as a service. Makes sense. I don't want to do it either.
7. It is suggested that perhaps a university or library might want to do this. To which I say -- not likely, for many reasons.
8. Then, after sleeping on it -- I have one of those AHA moments.
9. Why isn't this something a news org jumps on. It's their business. And for crying out loud -- do it with a revenue model. No paywall. Just charge the users for the service. Make this a market. Let's start building in a non-fragile way.
I don't know what to do with this other than give the idea to people who might have some influence at the news orgs. Forward it where ever you like.
Google search (in all its breeds, inlcluding image and Ngrams)
Google docs, now Google Drive
and I don't know what else; but...
I haven't used Google Reader yet. Or thought I didn't until I went there.
Turns out I already have a whole bunch of subscriptions I don't remember making. Is this an RSS reader? Looks like one. Maybe a good substitute for NetNewsWire, which crashed and burned for me awhile back, so I gave up on it. But I did like it when it worked. And it looks like what I have in Google Reader was imported from NetNewsWire, circa 2009. But I have no idea how to manage it, and get the same icky I-don't-know-how-to-make-this-work feeling that Google Drive gives me.
But I'm curious about readers again. I hadn't realized I had given up on them. (Even FlipBoard, which I set up a long time ago on my iPad, is now stale, with about a third of the sources gone dark (or gray).
Meanwhile I agree with Dave on #9. The problem with most large older news orgs is that they are very tied up in whatever their CMS is. The new ones are mostly very tied up in being new and married to whatever their provisional mission is.
But there are some openings, methinks. More on that later.