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If you haven't heard by now, Google is shutting down Google Reader, its popular RSS service, in July.
Given that Google has axed a handful of services in the past year, it doesn't really comes as a shock, but the outrage is palpable. Not only are journalists, writers, bloggers, and anyone who has to aggregate large numbers of feeds going to be scrambling to find a suitable replacement, but feed readers are a godsend to users with machines running older operating systems or browsers and people with visual impairments who prefer the simple interface. And Google Reader is one of the few ways Iranians can access blocked sites. This shutdown effects far more than just nerds and geeks.
I started using Reader back in 2007, when I was blogging for a site that required a certain number of links per post, and at this point, I can't imagine navigating the web without it. A number of sites have already provided lists of alternatives like Feedly and The Old Reader , which are pretty popular. Of course there are Twitter and Facebook, but part of what made Google Reader special was that it operated independently of social networking. Many sites have a Tumblr feed, too, but not all, and a lot of smaller, individual blogs eschew it completely. Bloglines is a good service I've used in the past and probably will again, and Digg is apparently rolling out its own news aggregator soon. None of these services are perfect (and all are pretty swamped with traffic right now), but in the interim they work fine, and with Google Reader getting the axe, they will surely improve by July.