On October 20, 2011, Google announced that it would soon be discontinuing the sharing and following features on Google Reader. For a great number of Reader’s users, this announcement was alarming, to say the least. The social functions of this RSS aggregator are what has inspired its loyal, diverse, and outspoken following. Reader isn’t the site where you have to have awkward conversations with that one kid from your algebra class in high school. Unlike all other social networking sites, Reader isn’t based on the personal profile narcissism that is so often satirized in popular culture. Simply, what makes Reader unique among so many competing social networking sites is that it is primarily content-based, just like the deepest relationships. Moving all social functions to Google+ will prevent this kind of communication; threads on Reader are easily navigable communal spaces, not painstakingly censored conversations on one person's profile page. Removing all social functions of Reader will not resuscitate the floundering Google + but will dismantle the robust Reader community and alienate a vocal and savvy group of internet culture consumers worldwide.
The sheltered yet transnational space that Google Reader provides allows for vibrant discussion and, in some cases, relationships that would not have been possible otherwise. We in the Reader community have met our spouses here, created lasting friendships, made productive professional connections, collaborated on works of art, journalism, literature, and activism, and discussed any number of political issues. For many of us, particularly those in Iran, Reader isn’t just a place to discuss politics, it’s a lifeline for the processes of progressive social change. This is not to say that we do not enjoy laughing at cat videos, too. As has been widely argued in the wake of Google's announcement, removing the social aspects of Reader will have negative effects on the lives of the people who use it.
As with any other subculture, sharebros have developed specific ways of communicating. The announcement that Google will be removing the social functions of Reader has caused us, like any community under threat, to rally to preserve the language we've created. We want this Reader Lexicon to be a place where sharebros can exhibit (OR DO WE MEAN XZIBIT?? YO DAWGI HERD U WERE MAKING A LEXICON SO I PUT SOME READERSPEAK IN YOUR READERSPEAK SO U CAN . . .) the diversity and creative collaboration of our community-building. We hope that this site will introduce our lexicon to newcomers and preserve it for those who already hold it dear. While the initial contents of this lexicon will reflect only a tiny corner of Reader, we wish to document the linguistic practices of as many sharespheres as possible. As the past few days have shown, it's a pretty small world.
For our first effort, we've made three pages: A Sharebro Primer, A Glossary of Hashtags and Abbreviations, and A Treasury of Pictograms. To become a contributor, simply request to be a member, then check out our guidelines page.
Finally, please sign the petition to save Google Reader.
Please direct any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dolly H, Laine G, Annie D W, and Ramey M
DISCLAIMER: We're not affiliated with Google; we're just fans of Reader.