Despite its name, Google Reader had up until now three levels of use:
- Reader: read RSS items
- Linkroll: share RSS items with friends
- Social network: converse on these shared RSS items with these friends
What was nice about this is that you could exchange and comment on posts within the flow of reading them.
Unfortunately, Google has cut the social features from Reader in an attempt to funnel users to Google Plus. I’m only annoyed, but it’s left some people really upset. Here’s a way to restore some of this functionality, until a suitable replacement comes along.
First, you’ll need an account with a bookmarking service. Delicious is free, but Pinboard is well worth supporting. After you’ve signed up, go into “Reader settings” in the top-right corner, click “Send To”, and “Create a custom link” at the bottom. Add one of these as your URL:
If you want to go all in, name it “Share in Reader” and give it this icon URL:
Get back to Reader and now you’ll have a familiar “Share in Reader” option at the bottom of each article. When you share something, there’s a field to enter comments, although two-way conversation isn’t possible.
Give your friends your new feed, which will look like one of the following:
If you want to keep your shared links from being discoverable, you can dig up a private feed link for these services as well.
Have your friends create their own, store them in a “People you follow” folder, and you’re back to good.
A downside of this is that it can take an hour or two for the feeds to refresh. But if you want to resist the will of a mighty company like Google, while continuing to use their service, it’s going to be an uphill battle.