Google Reader unveiled a redesign this week, and a lot of people are up in arms about the fact that they got rid of Reader's sharing features. I'm sorry that people have lost a tool they liked, of course, but I'm mostly shocked to discover that people liked it so much. When Google Reader first introduced the features, I tried them for a while, but quickly stopped using them regularly because I didn't like how narrow and randomly exclusive they were. I don't mean that they were designed to be exclusive, necessarily, but more that they wound up that way because so few people used them. There is virtually never a link that I want to share specifically with the tiny subset of my friends and contacts who use Google Reader. If I want to share a link in general, I'll tweet and/or blog it; if I want someone specific to see it, I'll email or IM. If I care enough about a link to share it publicly, I don't want it restricted to people who happen to use one specific site or tool. (This is the same reason why I find the Blogger "follow" button ridiculous.) I know not everyone will look at my blog or Twitter feed, but at least they're completely open to anyone who goes to a certain URL, with no login or friending required.
(As I was writing that, I remembered that I did, for a while, use the Reader Share widget to have links in the sidebar on my old blog, but I stopped that too, for a different issue of narrow exclusivity - I got annoyed that it was hard to put in links I found from other sources. My link posts are usually a mix of links I've come across on Reader, on Twitter, and in random other places, and I like being able to integrate them without having to think about the source.)