Sometime this week (supposedly), Google Reader is going to lose its social feature to Google Plus. This is a damn shame, since the People You Follow space has been, hands down, THE best social sharing tool I’ve ever used. In fairness, I think that Reader has been as great as it has been because the number of people I knew who used it was a pretty small group that was limited mostly to my closest friends who have a great deal of insight and share judiciously. But I also love Reader in that it’s extremely easy to share, easy to comment, and easy to control privacy, all on articles that you often don’t have to leave the interface to read in their entirety.
Some of my Reader friends have taken this news pretty hard, and that was my first impression (and really, second through sixth as well), but I’m kind of curious to see what the Plus integration will hold. It’s possible that, a month or two from now, we’ll be raving about how great Plus is for sharing articles from Reader. But while I hold a little bit of hope, my guess is that it’ll pale in comparison:
- It’s most likely that sharing from Reader will now be much more like using the “Send to” feature, which is several extra steps, enough to lower the number of things people share.
- Articles will just be shared in their snippet form, rather than being able to read the full article like you can now do on shares in Reader.
- With Circles, people will no longer be able to request that you share your Reader articles with them. You have to decide who sees your articles up front, meaning you’ll be likely to miss some people who would be great to share with. It’s that huge flaw of Circles rearing its head again.
The one thing that really bugs me about this is that Google is making the huge mistake of trying to force Plus on people. There’s no reason that they couldn’t have kept the sharing functionality in Reader exactly the same way while also allowing your shared articles (and comments) to go over to Plus as well, the same way it used to work in Buzz, with the comments showing up in both places. This would have left the great Reader experience intact while also allowing a ton of new content to start flowing into Plus.
In other words, rather than focusing on making Plus the best product it can be, they’re pulling the plug on everything else so that it’s the only product there is.