Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodbye Old Friends

We had two terrible losses this week. Not people but websites, Intrade and Google Reader.

The corporate auditors for the real-money Irish prediction markets site Intrade found improprieties with payments to the late founder John Delaney and have effectively shut down the site, probably for good. I never bet money on Intrade but they made their bet data easily available. I used Intrade data to power my electoral markets map, possibly the most accurate predictor of elections, at least until Nate Silver came along. Even then our map updated in real time based on new information reflected in market prices, while Nate had to wait for poll data. I also used Intrade generated graphs of prediction market prices in dozens of talks I've given over the past decade. There are other sites for prediction aggregation but painful to lose the granddaddy of them all.

Google announced it is closing down Google Reader, Google's newsreader on July 1. I find Reader invaluable for keeping up with the theory blogs, especially those that don't post that often (I'm looking at you Scott and Luca) as well as a various collection of other blogs and my daily Dilbert. Not to mention the 2241 people who subscribe to this blog on Google Reader. There are alternatives (I'm trying Feedly) and I will be more vigilant on sharing posts on Twitter and Google+ but the real question is to why do fewer people use Google Reader. Is the flood of stuff on the Internet gotten so large we don't even try to keep up with it?


  1. The loss of Google Reader will hurt a lot of people. It's probably the most blogged about thing I've seen across my newsfeed as everyone's looking for new ways to stay updated on their set of blogs.

  2. Google Reader seems to have horrible memory usage. I used to keep a tab devoted to it, but my browser memory use was creeping up to 1G, 1.5G, even 2G over time. I thought it was Firefox, but the same thing happened with Chrome and Safari. I finally identified Google Reader as the problem after some experimentation.

    Not that most people would be aware of that, but it was a big factor in me reducing my Reader use substantially. The other thing is---yeah, I have more than 1000 unread posts and no intent to catch up on them. There are really only a handful of things I keep up with even in Reader. It's most useful for the ones that are updated rarely and irregularly.

  3. A friend of mine just suggested this Google Reader alternative:
    I've only briefly used it but it seems to be a simple design much closer to Google Reader than flashier (but messier) websites such as Feedly or NetVibes (which can be useful but are just different products).

  4. It is part of Google plan to force people to use G+. They have tried it before. There is no other reason to shut it down when they still have long forgotten useless sites Orkut running. Google reader was popular but it has no place in Google's long term strategy which is focused on G+.

  5. I mainly use RSS to follow people like you who have interesting blogs that can teach me something. So long as you still have an RSS feed, I'll find an RSS client that can find your writing. If you switch to a Twitter feed or G+, I'll make the transition. Whatever's easiest for you.

    1. We will have an RSS feed as long as Google's Blogger software continues to publish RSS feeds. Take that for what it's worth.


  7. Intrade had (has?) become part of the culture. I often hear things like
    ``well--- what does intrade say about that''

    I will miss looking at it, though I never placed a bet.

  8. Hey,
    I don't mean to do any advertisement or something, but there's this app named Pulse on iOs and android, which is free and which really works great. But it's not really intended to grab 1000 blog feeds. Too bad there's no rich client (yet?)


  9. Reader shutting down hit me pretty hard too. On the other hand it's been pretty exciting looking at all the alternatives that I had ignored in the past.

    I've just started giving a spin; it seems pretty good so far.

  10. I don't know about exact comparisons of accuracy, but I had the impression Andrew Tanenbaum's predictions have also been as accurate as Nate Silver's, and he has done this for two US presidential elections in a row.

  11. Another Google insider telling how too much focus on Google+ is ruining Google's other products:

  12. I also switched to the Old Reader ( Feedly was just too flashy and organized info in a different way than I was used to. It is possible to import your Google Reader subscriptions, but the queue was quite long, so I just did it by hand.