Google Reader Used To Be the Shiznit

google-readerWhile I still use Google Reader for my RSS reading I miss the social functionality that used to be built into the system, functionality that has been stripped away as Google has shifted focus over to Google+. It always made sense to me to have those sorts of features within the news consumption ecosystem as opposed to taking them somewhere else. Buzzfeed has a history of the service that includes this nugget:

In December 2007, Reader linked up with Google Talk (the chat feature in Gmail) to display shared streams from friends. Within the context of feed reading, it fomented something of a Neolithic Revolution. Foragers, hitherto gathering headlines on a crude and solitary basis, became farmers, cultivating streams of information for their neighbors. Sharing increased 25% overnight. At Yale University, a student named Richard Berger (later known as Richard Likebot or Obscure Reference) notified his friends of the changes. “Holy shitballs,” replied Tom Lehman (aka Lemon or just Tom), who would later create the popular and lavishly funded lyrics annotation site Rap Genius. “I fully support this idea. Even if no one else does, please add everything to your shared feed.” Soon after, Reader implemented a bevy of complimentary features like pithy annotations and a bookmarklet to aggregate sites that didn’t support RSS. In March 2009 came a crucial update, allowing Readers to comment on one another’s shares. Eslao, the Reader from Boston, convinced her boyfriend to sign up.

I’ll always fondly remember the Fall a group of other Reader users and I basically spent months using comments, annotations and other features basically busting Rick Klau’s balls. After all, what is social media for if not for giving your friends a hard time?

By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.