Downfall of Google Reader

“One of the structuring principles of this course – the tumblog and the learning environment itself – is about disaggregation and reaggregation – taking things apart, scattering them across the network, and then having them put back together by the machine.” ededc tumblog

One of the tools I have used for this is Google Reader, and this was my first foray into using an aggregator (from which I was hoping to begin the process of disaggregation). But apparently Google are now pulling the service hoping, it’s rumoured, that people will use Google + more. Unlike my partner who has RSS links to over a hundred musical and technical feedsI have no allegiance to this service, ; but I’m finding it interesting to see opposition in action via the various blogs, petitions, and tweets (examples here, and here and check out #savegooglereader) .

To me, one of the best examples of this opposition is its addition to the Downfall meme which is embedded in this post. This origins of this meme trace back four or five years with its heyday, or certainly its entrance into the mainstream, in 2009/10 as recorded by various non-tech articles in the popular press such as the BBC and the Guardian. Although this meme has been around for a long time and is arguably largely passé, there remains at least one ‘community’ surrounding it, the Untergangers, which I seriously considered studying for my ethnography. I eventually decided against it because, clearly, there are many areas of potential sensitivities and I felt I could not fully understand or describe them or how the community handled them within the tight timeline. That said, I think that this meme displays some of the affordances of Web 2.0 to a high degree. Not only do we have a democratising effect of *ordinary* people able to reframe and redirect *higher* art forms, which we must not forget are also commercial products; we also have continual versioning which adds layers of creativity and further questions the notion of ‘author’ and ownership. But I think the greatest affordance of this particular meme is that, as the BBC article says “…some may draw positive conclusions from the idea of young people now feeling comfortable lampooning Hitler.” I think this is perhaps understating a very powerful tool indeed. That people in their bedrooms can create such an overt and public challenge to the narrative of such a heinous, yet arguably mythologised, individual by trivialising a portrayal of his ‘humanness’, for me, creates a degree of optimism about the potential power and influence of information flows which can be questioning, provocative and anarchic.



4 Responses to “Downfall of Google Reader”

  1. Steph Carr March 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Erm – a quick announcement like on the TV – there’s sub-titular swearing from the outset!

    If you haven’t seen this meme before and would like to explore more, I’d recommend Reaction to Oasis Split which can be found within the Guardian article.

  2. Jen Ross March 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    nice addition to the ‘downfall meme’ canon. I basically agree with the main character in the clip (whose name I shall not write, because rewrite that sentence with the name in and it becomes a statement I might not want archived for all time). I am a heavy user of Reader. Netnewswire really isn’t as good (and it uses Reader as a backend for syncing, anyway).

    What struck me as I was watching was that this only works as a meme because the assumption is that most people don’t speak German. (which in my case is true.) It’s an interesting reflection on digital culture and its fragmentation into linguistic and cultural silos…

  3. Steph Carr March 20, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    Hi Jen, I was actually wary of mentioning him by name within the post, because of a (probably paranoid) feeling of ‘infecting’ my blog and creating associations which I didn’t want but, through search engines etc., could have been taken out of context. Of course, I’m not suggesting at all that you were paranoid – that statement would have been ripe for interpretations. In fact, this got me thinking about post-structuralism and probably starting to understand it a bit for the first time. If you had made it, and someone had taken it to mean something which within their contexts and associations made sense to them, even though it might not make sense to us, would their interpretation have been wrong? (this is rhetorical I think, although I’m just starting out on the post-structuralist journey, so there’s a likelihood that I may have got the wrong end of the stick!)

    There is a comment I read somewhere from a German speaker who was not that impressed with the meme (due to being bored of hearing the same thing again and again I think). Fragmentation of digital culture due to linguistic and cultural silos – that sounds like something I’d really like to put some thought towards. Thanks!

  4. Steph Carr April 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Looking back through my tumblog I can see an example of an artefact which has been spliced according to linguistic (and probably cultural) background. It’s here and was an artefact which Chantelle found on edcmooc:

    Gina’s comments on the death of the author are very useful. Perhaps the appropriation of an artefact by a specific cultural group is reflective of the ‘promise’ of a democracy, yet with the ‘threat’ of the reconstruction of cultural boundaries.

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