Dead Is Dead

When you stop using a service, that doesn’t mean it should stop existing

Martin Hughes
Sep 3, 2013 · 3 min read

For years, I’ve been exposed to so many blog posts and news articles shouting to all who will listen that everything online is dying.

Email is dead. Twitter is dead. Google+ is dead. Stop fooling yourself, your favourite website is dead.

Don’t worry if you disagree. Just move on. Nothing to see here.

An online tool is ‘dead’ when either:

  1. you are using it incorrectly; or
  2. you have no valid need for it.

Your own experience doesn’t mean the service is useless to everyone else. Whether useless from the outset or a newly formed opinion, that doesn’t give you final say on its state.

Google Reader was switched off earlier this year. It is dead. Genuinely no longer.

That doesn’t mean RSS is dead. Yet one argument for putting Google Reader out of its misery was that it had limped along for ages despite the ‘death’ of RSS.

If RSS is so useless, why do so many people still use it? Why did so many other RSS services jump upon the hole left by Google Reader? Some people using RSS didn’t ever use Google Reader.

Any service that works for you, on whatever level, is a good thing. When someone claims the death of it, feel free to ignore it. However, do be prepared for a potential snowball of hate that leads to a drop in support for that service.

And do keep an eye when a service implements major changes. If it annoys enough users, the upshot could be as bad as closure. The change may not bother you, but if it bothers 95% of other users, there could be an indirect impact on your experience.

Hostility against a service can grow to such proportions that you may need to move to another service. But this is rare. Spectacular cases result in u-turns or at least a compromise.

The bigger thing to worry about is when another company buys the service you use for the technology. It’s not unknown for a high profile service to close down soon after, leaving you stranded. Think sites like Posterous and Picnik. There are alternatives, but that’s not the point for those who made a conscious choice because the alternatives weren’t so good for them.

For instance, I tried Feedly when it was first introduced to the public. After a couple of tries, I went straight back to Google Reader. I had similar experiences with other RSS readers.

Thankfully, when Google Reader closed, I discovered that Feedly had vastly improved in the meantime. In fact, it’s suiting me well enough that I’ve grabbed a Pro account. If it doesn’t satisfy your own needs, that’s fine by me! I just hope you’ve found a reasonable alternative to Google Reader.

And should there come a time that I wish to use another RSS service, I won’t write a piece declaring Feedly dead. Promise!

Should you at least argue with someone claiming the death of your favourite online service? Is it worth putting them straight? No.

One of the most popular XKCD comics ever made. I wonder why… (http://xkcd.com/386/)

It’s not worth responding to an opinion with an opinion. Minds have been made up and the subject matter isn’t big enough to warrant an argument. Your view is different, but shouting back is a waste of your time. The argument simply grows. A little bit of frustration quickly turns to full-on anger. Why bother?

I’m not saying we should stop sharing thoughts online. Conversation is great. I just don’t like how definitive claims get.

Yes, I get it. Brash proclamations have purpose. Controversy gets clicks and comments.

Perhaps I’m missing a trick. I’m being way too kind.

Just wait for my next piece in which I explain why everyone using Facebook is an idiot…

    Martin Hughes

    Written by

    Writing, curating, living and loving higher education. Celebrating the university experience (and beyond). Because life shouldn't stop when you study. #loveHE

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