Mark Llobrera

Katie Baker: “The Day the Good Internet Died”

Writing for The Ringer, Katie Baker looks back at the internet landscape of the last decade, through the lens of Google’s decision to kill Google Reader:

The internet lasts forever, the internet never forgets. And yet it is also a place in which I feel confronted with an almost unbearable volume of daily reminders of its decay: broken links, abandoned blogs, apps gone by, deleted tweets (miss you always, ah-well-nevertheless!), too-cutesy 404 messages, vanished Vines, videos whose copyright holders have requested removal, lost material that the Wayback Machine never crawled, things I know I’ve read somewhere and want to quote in my work but just can’t seem to resurface the same way I used to be able to.

Some of these losses are silly and tiny, but others over the years have felt more monumental and telling. And when Google Reader disappeared in 2013, it wasn’t just a tale of dwindling user numbers or of what one engineer later described as a rotted codebase. It was a sign of the crumbling of the very foundation upon which it had been built: the era of the Good Internet.

Like Baker, I’m skeptical about the myth of the Good Internet—I miss a lot of the wildly random nature of blogging’s heyday, but I suspect that a lot of that nostalgia is tied to a period when I was growing into myself. There is something to be said, though, for RSS facilitating easy, user-driven curation of content, something largely ceded to algorithm-driven feeds on platforms like Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Also, it turns out RSS isn’t even dead at Google.1

  1. (Via Dan Hon.) ↩︎