One of my favorite things is the ability in Reader to follow, share, and comment on posts with others. Some of them are birth-y people, a lot of them are not. Some of the latter have said to me "I learn a lot from the things you share, they're um...real different from everybody else's!" I feel the same way about their shares. Some of it is adorable baby animals, some of it is urban planning or video games or meteorology. Sometimes it overlaps with my blog-reading areas of interest in surprising ways. Some of it, from the birth-y people, is birth-y stuff and I learn about blogs or topics I may not have been closely following. I enjoy the comments and interactions I have with other people - it's a nice mini-social network and so simply and seamlessly integrated into Reader. If I remember seeing something, or am trying to find a bunch of relevant posts on a topic, I can easily search the blogs I read AND the shared items back in time (search "cord clamping" for example).
I like Google Reader so much I created a bundle of my favorite Reader feeds to encourage people to use it. I always recommend Reader to people as a way to start following more blogs more easily.
However, in what seems to be an attempt to push people into using Google+, Google is going to cut a lot of the social functions from Reader and make them only available in G+:
we’re going to bring Reader and Google+ closer together, so you can share the best of your feeds with just the right circles.
As a result of these changes, we also think it's important to clean things up a bit. Many of Reader's social features will soon be available via Google+, so in a week's time we'll be retiring things like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader.
Yes... a week. As another blogger put it:
after thinking about just how much I use Google Reader every day, I’m beginning to revise my initial forecast. Stay calm is quickly shifting toward full-bore Panic Mode.
First of all, how do you think I found Sarah’s piece? From a share in Google Reader. How did I easily and quickly archive both Austin’s and Sarah’s posts so that I could access them in the future for a post like this one? Again, Google Reader. How can I quickly search a variety of excellent sources, or dig back through my own writing in a quick and efficient manner? Yeah, you guessed it. As Sarah notes, Reader is a “carefully constructed “human curated” list of shares. It is, and will be up until the day it disappears, one of the most regular and enjoyable news consumption behaviors I engage in every day.”
Check, check, check. All exactly how I feel about this (right down to the part where I heard about this via a share). I am not interested in logging into Google+ to create groups to follow/share with, and I don't want the people who might follow me on Google+ to necessarily see my Reader shares. I'm not really interested in logging into Google+ at all - and this change will not make me any more likely to. Instead, I'm now searching (so far in vain) for a feed reader that will have the same social functions that Google Reader is getting rid of, WITHOUT forcing me to log into a separate social network. Poorly done, Google!
If anyone out there has reader suggestions, let me know...