Ted: If you follow us on Twitter, then you surely know that there are some recent changes to Google Reader that we are VERY concerned about.
Wesley: And to be clear, we’re NOT talking about the layout changes. We understand the subjective nature of beauty and how some people will always complain about changes in a site’s look/feel.
Ted: What we’re concerned with is the missing functionality and broken use cases. The change has essentially dismantled our entire reality.
Wesley: IT HAS RIPPED MY WORLD ASUNDER.
Ted: Well, perhaps that’s an overreaction…
Wesley: IT IS NOT.
Ted: …but all we know is that it’s horrible. In general, I like Google+. I don’t think it’s a Facebook replacement yet, but it’s still a baby, and for a baby, it’s pretty advanced. I understand Google’s reasoning behind making this change. G+ has a lot of sharing features and is used by more people than Reader, and theoretically you could enhance Reader’s reach and usability by integrating.
Wesley: Also, they want to force everyone onto Google+ so they can get their big fat bonuses this year.
Ted: Regardless, the problem is that they did it completely wrong. By forcing us into this new method of sharing, they make the consumption part of the sharing SO MUCH HARDER. You all know this, but I’ll say it anyway. Before The Cataclysm, you shared in Reader and you read in Reader. EASY PEASY. Now the process looks more like this:
- You +1 something in reader. Now one of two things happens.
- You don’t comment on it and it goes into your +1 stream on the +1 page of your G+ profile. This is a tab that is only public if you specifically choose to make it public.
- You do comment on it and it goes into your normal profile stream as a shared item.
- Go to friend A’s G+ profile, see if there’s anything new on their stream. Then go to their +1 page and see if there’s anything new on there. Can’t remember where you left off? Well, since Google+ isn’t equipped like an RSS reader (with “Mark as Read” or “Keep Unread”), then TOO EFFING BAD FOR YOU.
- Repeat this process for friends B and C
- Have more than 3 friends? You might want to block off the rest of the day, cause this is going to take a while.
And everyone who wants to see what they would have seen with one click in the old reader now has to follow this infinity-step process in order to stay up-to-date.
Wesley: You could create a circle for these specific article-sharing friends, but then you won’t necessarily see everything they +1 from Google Reader. There’s some arcane difference between a +1 and a “Share” which makes some things appear in a circle’s stream and not others. So you’re left clicking around profiles and trying to keep track of what you’ve read in your head…
Ted: And your head is a notoriously untrustworthy place.
Wesley: Not to mention that with all this fooling around in Google+, you’re going to be bombarded with a bunch of baby pictures and status updates and general social crap that you don’t really care about when you’re trying to get caught up on shared articles.
OUR PROPOSED SOLUTIONS:
1. The “Google gets its act together and fixes this crap” Solution
This is what should happen. Google realizes the error of its ways and rolls out a new feature in Reader. It’s called “Following Circles.” You have the ability to see all of the +1s and/or shares of any circle you choose. It runs just like Google Reader has always run, comment streams and all, and everything naturally cross-updates to G+. Problem solved, and no one gets hurt.
2. The “Turn off your internet forever and weep in a corner” Solution
Pretty self-explanatory. Since option 1 is extremely unlikely, you might as well call in your internet chips and give up. Return to a simpler time, go hang out outside or something. I hear it’s nice.
3. The External Blogging Service Solution
Ok, so you’re still reading, and I’m guessing it’s because you actually want to get something useful out of reading this post. Well here it is. One thing Google didn’t take away from us is the “Send To” button. We almost never used it before, but now it’s the only glimmer of hope we have. You can use this button to “share” the things you like with pretty much any blogging and/or social service. Tumblr, Posterous, Facebook, you name it. You can even add custom targets. Here’s a screenshot of what we’re talking about:
If you choose a platform like Tumblr, your new mini-blog will have an RSS feed. And then your friends can add you to their Reader feed like any normal blog, and you can add them if they do the same, thus restoring at least part of the social features of yore. See the pictures below.