If you are a user of Google Reader, you have surely noticed the changes this week. Even if you do not use it, you have probably heard people complaining about it.
Google Reader (“gReader,” as I like to call it) is an easy way to subscribe to the contents of practically any website — blogs, news, photos, even tweets — and read them in one central location.1 It makes consuming a lot of content much more efficient.
One of the best features in recent years was the ability to share content within gReader. Other users could subscribe to your shared items and comment on them. The entire content was shared, not just a link, so you could stay on the gReader site. Again, much more efficient.
The community never got huge as far as I could tell. I followed the shared items of about 40 people, and half of them were regularly sharing content. I found some great things through their shared items, though, and there were some great discussions in the comments.
A lesser-known feature is the ability to send a link from gReader to an outside service like Tumblr, Instapaper, Evernote, and many more. This means you can share to whatever service works best for you.
The changes this week removed the built-in community features in Reader and left just the “send to” feature. Google+ is the prominently featured destination to share items to. This process is disappointing because instead of sharing the actual content, you're just sharing a link to it. There's no central location I can go to read the shared items from those I subscribed to before. The closest I can get is a Google+ Circle of those people, but then I'm just seeing a long list of links. One of my reasons for using gReader is to be more efficient — to avoid clicking 500 separate links.
Despite being a small community, the users of gReader are pretty passionate and vocal about the sharing features going away. I miss it quite a bit, so I can understand why. I have seen a couple projects already designed to replace gReader and bring back the community features. HiveMined sounds like the most promising one so far.
I am currently experimenting with the Google+ sharing method. It now supports searchable hashtags, so I've been adding #gRegorReader and #GoogleReader to my shared items. They're public, so you can view them here.