I know that for some unfathomable reason, many people don’t take advantage of RSS capabilities—presumably such people don’t read blogs with any regularity, because I don’t know how you would do it without an RSS reader. And I know also that some ridiculously small percentage of Google’s customers use Google Reader, and an even smaller percentage used the sharing functions that were embedded within it up until a few days ago. So it’s completely fruitless to complain about the elimination of those functions. Google could care less, and most people probably won’t even know what I am talking about.
Nevertheless I will proceed undeterred, because Google Reader’s model of sharing was one I could get behind, unlike the ideal of “frictionless sharing” Facebook is trying to push on its users. In Reader, all you could share was other blog posts, glossed with a comment if you chose. And if you followed someone’s shared items, they appeared seamlessly among the content you are already using Reader to gather and access. This sort of sharing didn’t exactly make reading social, and it didn’t make me feel like reading blog posts was supposed to be a performative social activity—where I felt obliged to share cool things to try to impress anyone who was following me. It didn’t turn the space of Google Reader into something I imagined as crowded with other people, the way I visualize entering the Twittersphere; instead I felt sequestered with the stuff I was trying to read (or, too often, simply process), only there would be these additional items that wouldn’t have ordinarily been there that I’d generally appreciate. I got to read the best of many blogs I don’t follow, and I learned about many new blogs to start following. It suited my idea of the contemporary public sphere: an exchange of the best pieces of writing about the issues and current events worth deliberating over.