July 2, 2013

What does the death of Google Reader mean to sex offender advocacy?

7-2-2013 National:

Sex offender advocacy is based on knowledge of whats happening day to day, in various states, cities and towns across the nation. Where does the knowledge come from? It comes from local news items all across the nation on the Internet. The same is true of websites, blog postings and even court news items, the folks that run these sites post bits of information about whats going on in their local areas.

So how did all that local knowledge get to our our blogs? We used a service provided by Google called Google Reader (GR) which consolidated information we asked it to search for across the Internet. GR had a way to display what we searched for so that we could easily see, and review, items we thought important to our readers. Many other "Topic" blogs and websites also relied on the GR for current information.

After review and posting -to our topic and news blogs- what was important to our readers, just like other blogs did, readers were able to act on that information in a timely manner. An example, if a lawmaker in no-mans-town proposed a law affecting sex offenders in that area, or maybe in that state, our readers could timely plan to counteract such a law, once they knew what had been proposed.

Excepting for regular news websites and the like, it is most likely you have been getting credible and timely information from places that have used GR in some manner to gather information for their readers.
Today GR died, it was eliminated by Google. The service no longer exists, hence a GOODLY portion of our news gathering has been cut off. Built into GR were TWO specific essential functions: 1) a RSS Feed Reader, and 2) a Search function. No other RSS Feed Reader has a "Search" function like Google Reader had.

I'll attempt to explain GR's unique "Search" function: As to "words and phrases" GR got its input from another Google service Google Alerts (GA) which still exists today. However, the part of GA that created RSS Feeds based on "words and phrases" has been removed from GA. The ability to create RSS Feeds from words and phrases is the heart of pulling together news items from across the Internet. With the heart removed, and GR removed too, we lose the ability to gather vast amounts of news based on words and phrases.

Google Alerts still allows us to create "e-mails" from words and phrases. But to gather news for our advocacy it takes a combination of over 150 words and phrases (used by eAdvocate) for our topic and news blogs. Consider the time it now takes to read hundreds of e-mails, one-by-one, and then open the news item it mentions and review it for possible inclusion in our blogs. There are not enough hours in a day to do that, its that simple. That is not a viable method to cover the vast topics we have previously covered. However, we will use this method to cover what we can within time constraints.
So, with the closing of GR, sex offender advocacy has taken a BIG HIT, a step backwards. This hit means local information can no longer be widely distributed, excepting when readers mention a local story and we post them. Other sites we know of are similarly affected.

While news sites across the nation still provide RSS Feeds for their news stories, connecting with the millions of sites is simply not possible, if it were possible their stories would have to be filtered for any related to our advocacy which was previously done automatically through the combination of GA and GR.

Google said these services were not used much, but if you have read the news items on this topic since Google's announcement, you would know over a million sites have complained, but Google is firm, and now it is gone. Feedly, another RSS Feed reader, said they have converted over 500,000 folks from GR. We also are now using Feedly, but Feedly cannot handle the "words and phrases" searching that GR did. This AM all those words and phrases we converted to Feedly, are dead and we must now remove them. The same happened to another RSS Feed reader we are trying, The Old Reader.

For now we wanted folks to know why our past vast reporting on many topics, has come to a slow crawl until we find another way to do the words and phrases searching and automatic handling as GR did for us. We are sure you will see less on other similar sites over the next month or so; GR was the heart of topic information.

We will keep readers apprised and we search for a replacement. All thoughts are welcomed.


PS: Today Yahoo has also stopped their Yahoo Alerts for blogs, saying folks can search their news. However, this is no answer to the needs of Topic sites.

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