I’m a believer in the basic concept of the Bell Curve which can be adapted to many facets of modern life. Think of the Bell Curve as a bell-shaped graph which can depict the spectrum of almost anything. The few smart folks on the far right, average folks in the middle, and not so smart folks on the far left of the bell shape.
Use the Bell Curve to display smartphone and tablet users. Apple’s iPhone and iPad to the right, Android devices in the massive center section, Microsoft and others to the left.
When it comes to modern computing I think the Bell Curve is out of shape. It’s now a long and massive tail for the masses. As an example, take the news that Google plans to shut down the popular Google Reader service.
Why? Usage is down. Why? Managing RSS feeds requires thought and effort, cultivating and pruning. That’s just too much effort for most computer users today.
RSS is a wonderful technology that enables computer users (from Windows to Mac, from Android to iOS devices) to browse headlines and summary news from hundreds of sources in one convenient reader app. What’s better than RSS?
Perhaps the handwriting was on the wall when Apple dropped RSS from Safari. Maybe Apple recognized the trend. Too many computer users are content with major news sites with an ax to grind and a political agenda, or they’re in love with digital rags that are little more than TMZ, or Flipboard-like aggregators where ease-of-use reigns supreme over roll-your-own news and information gathering (a requirement for RSS readers).
The Bell Curve is out of shape. Thoughtful and insightful analysis makes up a seemingly smaller segment on the right side of the bell, while the great unwashed and uninformed masses make up the body of the curve; ill informed, easily swayed by digital rags which blend fact and fiction into a sensationalized soup with little mental nourishment.
Google’s informal corporate slogan is ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ By shutting down Google Reader, we know that Google’s recent history of intellectual property thievery is more indicative of the company’s culture, and such a culture doesn’t want informed masses of users.
Goodbye, RSS. We hardly knew ye.