Hadi Mirror

I am an Iranian journalist and blogger, studied Sociology, with interests and experiences in New Media and citizen journalism. I cover Iran on Global Voices here: http://globalvoicesonline.org/author/hadi-nili. I'm on twitter @ HadiMirror.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Iranians disappointed with ‘Gooder’ changes

New changes in Google Reader made many Iranian users surprised.

On the last day of October 2011, Google changed its services on Reader and integrated it with Google+, which had announced 10 days ago in advance.

Iranian users of Google Reader (who call it Gooder in abbreviation) has been objecting and protesting the Google‘s decision to reduce some social features from Reader and integrate it with Google+.

There has been the same objection from other users as well but it seems that Iranians has been more motivated to put their objection.

They put tens of comments on a post by Google’s Alan Green declaring the impending changes.

Iranians has been suffering a harder crackdown on media and cyberspace especially after the 2009 protests. The government has closed down some papers and made the internet censorship tighter. The filtering which doesn’t allow Iranian users to open Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, and any opposition news websites.

Even Google Reader has been blocked in Iran for many times, mostly during 2009 protest days, but this map shows Gooder has been the most popular website in Iran, although lots of users who surf the net with VPN or proxies and Iranians abroad are not counted.

Amirhm.com, Iranian blogger, says
Google Reader matters for Iranians” and integrating it with Google+ “will make it like any already available and banned website like facebook.

Google Reader with its removed social features has been something more than a Feed Reader and users could collaborate in reading with sharing options; which is not the same as other social services like Facebook or Friendfeed.

Even a pro-government newspaper in Iran, Haft-e Sobh did a full story on this changes in Gooder; with a title which reads [Fa]: A requiem for Gooder.

Amirhm.com writes:
In a country which all social websites and video or image sharing services and all international Persian news and all other non-governmental news website are banned, Google Reader acts like a social websites in lack of any independent news source and like a news spreading website.

The other upset users also suggest that after disputed June 2009 presidential election in Iran, developed an strong community for spreading the news.

In Iran, Google Reader has been acting more like an undercover media outlet and even there has been some services for Iranians based on Gooder; namely Likekhor which was counting the most shared and the most liked items on Gooder.

Due to this stats service, VahidOnline is one of the most popular Gooder user among Iranian users with almost 7700 followers.

He used to act like a hub for spreading and sharing the news from different sources like many other popular users.

While Iranian blog services ought to apply Iranian regime rules for their content censorship, “foreign” Blog services like Blogger.com and Wordpress.com are blocked in Iran, and that’s why many Persian blogs depend on Google Reader to be read and many user put notes in Gooder, like a blog.

Arman Amiri, Iranian blogger on Divanehsara, in a note in Google Reader implies with humor that [Fa]:
Google is shaking hands with censorship chiefs in Iran.

Another Gooder user and blogger, Kathy says [Fa]: It is like being after bombing attack warning alarm [during Iran-Iraq war]; everybody is waiting to see when then destroy here…

There were also some Iranian users who are welcoming these changes in Google Reader and this integration in Google+.

Amin Sabeti, an Iranian blogger on 'Neda-ye Emrooz', says [Fa] in Friendfeed:
I’m satisfied with changes in Google Reader. Google is stepping in a true way ahead and that was a good job to remove social features from this service.

Before the changes, Parham, an Iranian blogger and web developer, wrote in his blog [Fa] about the business aspect of this changes. He believes:
Google have been unsatisfied with the costs of keeping millions of posts and hundreds of millions of comments and likes.

He believes that Iranian users have been using social features in Gooder in a wrong way; posting in it like a blog for example.

Parham reminds that users have not been paying for this service and suggests that the profits of companies like Google and Facebook is more important than the users prefer and “the user can easily get used to new service and new designs”.

There was some endeavors to save the social features in Google Reader; including signing a petition suggested by Brett Keller which gained over 11500 signatures and a page on Facebook with more than 38800 members but none of them made any change in the Google decision and it made the changes in Google Reader and Google+ today.

Due to upcoming reactions, it seems that Iranian users are disappointed with their Google+ and they seem to have problems in finding previous features of Gooder in this service.

Here in a post on Friendfeed, These users who are not welcoming the changes say [Fa] they are not satisfied with the new manner in sharing items with friends, They are not able to read their friends shared items any more, and they are confused in finding those who used to follow in Gooder now in Google+.

In the comments of this post some users suggest that Google should have allowed the users to move their followers and those who they follow to the new platform in Google+.

Alireza Majidi, a famous well-read blogger, wrote [Fa] about this new changes:
I doubt that new changes in Google Reader would be affective to make Google+ more interesting.

He also urges that there is no alternative tool for Iranian users and others who are so attached to the late social features of Gooder and now they should get used to Goolge+.

The Google blog in Persian says Google+ is in its first steps ahead and we are working on improving it.

This post by Alan Green, Google software engineer also recommend for those are not interested in Google+ to back up their data here; which is not described that how this exports could be used in other services.

At the same time some prominent Iranian users of Google Reader are looking for some semi-alternative social features.

Nima Akbarpour, an Iranian blogger and presenter or Persian Click TV program on IT and gadgets, suggests a user style for Firefox and Google Chrome which "rolls back Gooder" for Iranian users; giving them a very few social features of Google Reader.

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