James Fallows, Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein, all reasonable men to be sure, are gun shy about Google. Fallows isn’t eager to use Google’s new notetaking system, Keep, because it has cancelled interesting software in the past (not just Reader, but Health and Notebook). Drum notes that client-based software (which stores data on your PC rather than the cloud) is still usable for a while even if the software company goes out of business, but Reader will be dead July 1 no matter what. Ezra is worried because he’s reached the 30 gigabyte paid limit for Gmail storage and can’t buy any more.
These are all legitimate concerns, but let’s get some perspective here. Even the Google duds run for a minimum of 4 years (Health, 4 years, Reader, 9 years, Notebook, 5 years). And Google has a serious, well-funded effort to make sure you can export all your data from Google services.
When you put your data into the cloud, you run a bunch of risks. The first, and worst, is that you can’t get your data back. Other risks include the service going down (not a Google habit), outgrowing the service, and the service changing in ways you don’t like. The first two risks are handled about as well as they can by Google. The last two are the way of all software: whether on the desktop or in the cloud, and Google changes very incrementally and has pretty generous limits (30 Gigs is a hell of a lot of mail, for example).
In other words, the free pony I get with Google is a pretty, pretty pony, and I’m sticking with it until another, better pony comes along, or until this pony is put down.
BTW, I haven’t even started looking for a Google Reader replacement because I’m letting the people who paniced and moved the first day try out all the alternatives and report back. I’ll post here when I find one.
Update: This seems to indicate that you can buy more than 30 GB of Gmail storage, a lot more. So, Ezra was wrong about the Iraq War, and Gmail. I expect a mea culpa sometime in 2023.