New Google Reader Interface Pushes Google+ Sharing

(You might want to read Google Reader’s New Interface first.)

One of the things I liked about Google Reader was the ‘Shared Items’ public page. Prior to the recent update to Google Reader (see above link), you could ‘Share’ an item in your Google Reader and it would then update your ‘Shared Items’ page, which could be made public if you wished. (Mine is CASS 크리스티나’S SHARED ITEMS.) I liked the ‘Shared Items’ page for a couple of reasons.

One: I had a single url I could go to that collected articles I’ve read on the internet that I hadn’t necessarily Plurked, Tweeted, or blogged about.

Two: Not everything I read on Google Reader that I shared publicly needed to be shared with the people I have on various social media sites. Out of a list of articles on my ‘Shared Items’, I could select one or a small number that I thought were most important or more interesting to share that day so that I wasn’t ‘spamming’ people who may not be interested. If anyone was interested in reading more articles that I’ve read, I could share the url with that person. For that matter, I could simply just share the ‘Shared Items’ url sometimes and just keep things very simple.

As someone commented on Google Reader – Social Retrospective:

I’m just a little sad that Reader has now moved to the “intrusive sharing” model. To share stories now, you have to push them into your friends G+ streams. With Reader sharing before, you could share all you wanted, and the person (who chose to follow you for your story sharing) could read, ignore, gloss over, decide by the headline on a single line if they wanted to read…now I feel like I’m spamming my friends who may or may not be interested in the stories.

At the very least, G+ should add a link or selection to access shared stories only if you want to. Like with games. It’s way too hard now to consume large amounts of material.

It’s a sad day when a good feature gets left behind in the name of “progress.” :-(

Another comment:

What Google have done here is really disgusting. I’ve been using Google Reader for some years, using the ‘shared items’ both as a very powerful archive of things I need to keep in a searchable place, and as a way of keeping the many websites that I work with updated. Using the RSS feed from my shared items page updates loads of websites and email services that I provide to others.

At a stroke, without warning, Google have removed the main tool I use for my work and removed my access to my archive. This creates huge problems for me in my work and I’ve lost a lot of time I’ll never get back. There are weasel words on their site about how I can download by archive in the JSON file, but seeing as there’s not an application that I can load it up into, it’s a useless offer.

Sure – I can use MobileRSS on iPhone for now, and someone has created a Google Chrome plugin that lets me do a lot of what I used to to – but for how long? MobileRSS may even go along with the new GR at their next release. Google have already shown that they’re quite capable of being total pricks and I suspect they’ll soon turn off the ‘shared items’ archive and get rid of the legacy ‘shared items’ page.

This is a really nasty abuse of Google’s market dominance (after all, the RSS reader market has been long-since cleaned out by the dominance of GR) and if it isn’t illegal for them to turn off services like this with (almost?) no warning, then it should be.

While you can Read Your Shared Items in Google Reader by subscribing to your ‘Shared Items’ url, I share this sentiment above “I suspect they’ll soon turn off the ‘shared items’ archive and get rid of the legacy ‘shared items’ page.”

While I personally like Google+ and am currently using it, I realize there are those who may not be using it (whether it’s because they’re on other social media sites or because they just don’t like the main social media sites). As a user of Google+, I like the added +1 feature in Google Reader and I admit they’ve found a neat way to integrate Google Reader and Google+. But since this is replacing the old sharing feature in Google Reader now, I can only assume the decision to remove the old sharing feature along with the old commenting feature is nothing more than a way to push Google+ on people who aren’t currently using Google+. It’s a kind of marketing that, even as a university graduate with a marketing major, I personally despise.

When I signed into Google Reader today, I didn’t think they seriously removed the old sharing feature. I thought maybe it was some oversight because I thought they would implement the +1 and Google+ sharing as an addition to the old sharing feature (because it’s obvious they do different things). (Yes, I know you can use the ‘Send To’ to share on other sites – that’s not what people are upset about.)

One can only hope Google reverses their decision on the removal of the old sharing feature. They haven’t removed the public ‘Shared Items’ pages yet, but hopefully they’ll at least consider leaving that as is or find a satisfying way for everyone to be able to access that archive. In the meantime, I’m going to try to find some non-public way to archive the stuff I read, aside from saving links in my email sent to another email account, so that I don’t need to spam the hell out of my social media contacts.

It also doesn’t help matters when Google Reader’s Help pages state that you can share items to a public page when that isn’t the case. Someone needs to update the help pages.

Okay, Google, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here that you’re not only interested in promoting yourself, but still care about what the end users want. Any more faux pas and I’m putting you on my ‘Gates-Zuckerberg watch list’.

3 Responses to “New Google Reader Interface Pushes Google+ Sharing”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    This may be an obvious question and answer to you but not using google reader before and not being familiar with its features. How does removing the features you speak of end up forcing people who are not using google+ to use google+.

    Is this because people who were using google reader but not using google+ now are forced to switch to google+ if they want similar features that were just taken away from google reader ? or is there some other reason ?

    [Reply]

    fey Morgaina Reply:

    “Is this because people who were using google reader but not using google+ now are forced to switch to google+ if they want similar features that were just taken away from google reader ?”

    That is the reason. The old share feature was for sharing within Google Reader while the ‘Send To’ is for sharing to external sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Blogger. Along with the old share button you could write a comment to the article you just read. If I recall correctly, some features of the old Google Reader were ‘Share’, ‘Share with Comment’, and ‘Like’. Google Reader still has ‘Email’, ‘Send To’, ‘Tags’, and the starring feature. With the new changes, you can +1 the article (which seems to be the replacement for ‘Like’, and doesn’t seem to be an issue since you can +1 something and not actually set up a Google+ profile). With the new ‘Send To’, supposedly you can add a site you want to share to, but I haven’t figured out how to use it with Plurk. If you want to share within Google, the only way to do that is by using the ‘Share’ box in the top black bar on the right side. Clicking +1 gives you the option to share on Google+ (since I am a Google+ user, I like this new feature). The only way to comment on the article is by sharing in Google+. ‘Email’ is still an option, so people who are making notes can still just send the article to themselves in email.

    Google Reader was also maintaining its own following system. I didn’t use that, but some people were. Basically you could follow someone in Google Reader, but not have to follow them elsewhere. People who were using the Google Reader following system to read stuff others had shared will now have to find those people elsewhere if they only had them on Google Reader. (They can download a json file of a list of people they followed, but still tracking down someone can be hard.) If a person had followers, I guess they feel like they lost an audience they aren’t sure they’ll get back. (There’s json file for that too. I guess they can try to track those people down too.)

    I think for some of the Google Reader users, it’s simply that Google Reader had developed its own community – people who used RSS/Atom feeds. For most of the Google Reader users that community (albeit small compared to Twitter and Facebook) is significantly different than the community on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere, and basically Google has killed that community (with little warning according to some Google Reader users). I guess you can call this the ‘Google Reader disapora’ – some of those users feel displaced.

    That being said, having spent a day or so looking around for an alternative RSS reader that allows me to keep an archive of articles, clippings or otherwise, Google Reader is still one of the best RSS readers online if all you want is to read articles, be notified of new ones, and occasionally share on Google+ and other sites. I do agree the new +1 and sharing to Google+ option is a good step for Google+, but I don’t think it’s fair to push something on people.

    I’m now working on a way to have my ‘archive’ of articles that I like from Google Reader.

    [Reply]

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