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For those of us who rely on Google Reader for organization of our RSS feeds and staying up to date on the day’s news, the announcement yesterday that Google will shutter the project as part of a “spring cleaning” was fairly devastating. But almost instantly, a few clever companies like Feedly began highlighting their support and solutions for RSS orphans. And on Thursday, Digg jumped into the fray with the promise of such a new answer to Google Reader.
Reuters had reported Wednesday night that the Betaworks-owned company had something in the works, and on Thursday the company released a blog post explaining that it has been working on something around Reader, but will speed up production in light of Google Reader’s imminent demise on July 1:
“We’ve heard people say that RSS is a thing of the past, and perhaps in its current incarnation it is, but as daily (hourly) users of Google Reader, we’re convinced that it’s a product worth saving. So we’re going to give it our best shot. We’ve been planning to build a reader in the second half of 2013, one that, like Digg, makes the Internet a more approachable and digestible place. After Google’s announcement, we’re moving the project to the top of our priority list. We’re going to build a reader, starting today.
Since 2010, when we started working on News.me at betaworks, we’ve been obsessed with building tools that surface the most interesting things on the Internet, in real-time. That’s what has guided our approach to rebuilding Digg, and it’s with that experience behind us (including a whole load of mistakes), that we will build the new reader.
We hope to identify and rebuild the best of Google Reader’s features (including its API), but also advance them to fit the Internet of 2013, where networks and communities like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Hacker News offer powerful but often overwhelming signals as to what’s interesting. Don’t get us wrong: we don’t expect this to be a trivial undertaking. But we’re confident we can cook up a worthy successor.”
Om published an interview Wednesday night with Google Reader creator Chris Wetherell, who’s working on his startup Avocado now, and Wetherell explained that Google Reader always lived on borrowed time. But as Buzzfeed’s John Herrman pointed out, the RSS reader was still driving significant traffic for many publishers, and as Laura Owen wrote for PaidContent, Google Reader’s demise could have a significant impact on digital publishers and news outlets.
Whether Digg’s new product solves the problems that Google Reader’s exit creates is unclear, but creating a news reader built on RSS from scratch could allow for some innovation around a product that hasn’t changed much since the mid-2000’s. If you’re interested in following Digg’s progress, the company has a sign-up list … along with a highly depressing countdown until Google Reader is really dead.