In reverence of the ink-stained Hermann Rorschach, Google is doing it's trademark logo morphing today. New to me is their addition of sharing tools to the homage, allowing you to share their creative effort when you rollover it (as shown in the above screen grab).
Button, Button Who's Got the (Share) Button?
Including the ability to share your content today is comparable to what print-friendly tools were to the web of 10 years ago. It's widespread but it's not second nature to include. And adding sharing tools can be executed artfully (like an inkblot), easily (like blogging platforms that have already added it for you) or poorly (like the multiple car horns Homer Simpson wanted in his concept car).
Thanks to folks like Tumblr, Wordpress and Typepad many content creators don't need to give social sharing a second thought. When they hit publish, they arm readers with the ability to share their content. But the above example, elegant in its simplicity, reminds me that we shouldn't assume our content is properly armed with the right tools.
Content, and our roles in creating it, are more broadly defined than ever before. We need to do more than simply confirm our content can be shared, we need to work with the design and development folks to make it work more intuitively acrosss platforms.
An Art & Science Mix
This requires us to balance the aesthetic and the utility behind the content environment you're creating. Google nails this combination in the above example. But in other examples, it makes more sense to add "the F" and "the T" icons to your template -- in clear view of the reader -- and call it a day.
This also means you need to make sure its not confused with your social contact icons. Pro Tip: move those from the header to the footer. And don't forget it's a balance. Tools like ShareThis are more powerful and much more aesthetically smart. But adding even one click to the sharing process can impact the level of engagement your content creates.
So while the increased importance of sharing tools may lead us to believe it's a box we've checked off...and this discussion is a waste of time...I disagree. If we could compare the analytics around Google's logo projects, before and after sharing, I'm betting it would it prove out my simple observation.