Google’s new Reader Features

OK, Google has added a bunch of new features to its RSS Reader over the past week. What are the big ones?

1. There’s now a social network. Along the left side of Google Reader, I now see an item that says “Friends’ shared items.”
2. There’s now a profile that you can share with your readers. You’ll see that profile when you click on “Your shared items.”

These features are largely unfinished and unpolished. Here’s my feedback for the team:

1. Why isn’t my profile shared on my link blog? (NEVERMIND: that feature just got turned on!)
2. The “Friends’ shared items” needs to be able to display the profile when you mouse over names. The list that’s presented is nearly useless. Aside: I’m still adding friends at scobleizer@gmail.com
3. When you click “Manage friends” it sure would be nice to see what kinds of things each person has already shared. We can’t. All we can see is if they’ve shared anything or not. That’s not very helpful. If someone shares porn, I don’t want to friend them and pollute my feeds.
4. We really need to be able to add our own tags on top of each friend.
5. I’m still getting duplication in the Friends’ shared items feed.
6. Things seem slow, that’s not what I’m used to with Google stuff. Did you test the scalability here? I bet none of the developers on the team have hundreds of friends cause the UI falls apart and so does the performance of the friends page.
7. A LOT more people are sharing feeds than I expected to, which is cool, but means more features/filtering needed.
8. I don’t think it’s a privacy problem because it’s pretty clear to me that when you share something it goes into public view, but some of my friends REALLY disagree. So, that tells me you have, at minimum, a perception/expectation problem and probably have some rethinking to do as you add new features that take advantage of the public shared items capabilities.
9. I want to be able to hide items from people right from the Friends’ shared items view.
10. There’s not a payoff for people yet to enter their profile information: out of hundreds of Google Reader friends only a handful had filled in much information (UPDATE: Now that profiles show up on the shared items page, the payoff is increasing). If this is how Google is going to take on Facebook it’s a failure so far.
11. All these new features make me wish I had some way to lay things out for my readers in a hierarchy. Sort of like TechMeme does.
12. The flow is incredible from just the friends I’ve already added (there were 880 items waiting for me tonight). It sure would be nice to see a “here’s the 40 most popular items from your friends” page.
13. It would be nice for me to have two shared items pages that you could see: 1. the one I already do. 2. the one my friends do (they are darn good at picking news — better, even, than TechMeme or Digg!)
14. While I’m at it, I’d love to add a comment onto each item so I could tell you why I thought it was important.

Google does deserve some kudos, though, because it was very easy to add links to its competitors. I added a link to Twitter, Facebook, and a variety of other social networking services — I wish I could do the same from Facebook.

42 thoughts on “Google’s new Reader Features

  1. Salubri,

    I think the answer is that Google tracks so many feeds it has to prioritize them based on popularity (and probably some other factors). So if the feed you’re looking for is one you’ve custom added (a google alert, let’s say), don’t look for that to update in real time. That’s why the ‘refresh’ button really does nothing most of the time.

  2. Salubri,

    I think the answer is that Google tracks so many feeds it has to prioritize them based on popularity (and probably some other factors). So if the feed you’re looking for is one you’ve custom added (a google alert, let’s say), don’t look for that to update in real time. That’s why the ‘refresh’ button really does nothing most of the time.

  3. Hi Robert… Additionally to what you have in this list – has anyone checked Google Reader against other feed readers / aggregators? Performance seems a bit shaky (as blogged here http://salubri.journals.ie/2007/12/20/google-reader-sooo-slow/)
    I keep finding that I am getting notified of new posts on blogs I follow through the feed reader I use on my desktop – but when I go into Google Reader to share them – they are still not there – even when I “refresh” which actually seems to do nothing…

    Cheers.

  4. Hi Robert… Additionally to what you have in this list – has anyone checked Google Reader against other feed readers / aggregators? Performance seems a bit shaky (as blogged here http://salubri.journals.ie/2007/12/20/google-reader-sooo-slow/)
    I keep finding that I am getting notified of new posts on blogs I follow through the feed reader I use on my desktop – but when I go into Google Reader to share them – they are still not there – even when I “refresh” which actually seems to do nothing…

    Cheers.

  5. Thanks to John Frost for pointing out how to add my comments to items that I want to add to my shared items using Google’s Shared Stuff.
    I’ve frequently figured that Shared Stuff would be more useful than an expanded Notebook.
    And I hope there are further innovative uses to be discovered.

  6. Thanks to John Frost for pointing out how to add my comments to items that I want to add to my shared items using Google’s Shared Stuff.
    I’ve frequently figured that Shared Stuff would be more useful than an expanded Notebook.
    And I hope there are further innovative uses to be discovered.

  7. “Here’s the 40 most popular items from your friends” … “I’d love to add a comment onto each item” … etc.

    Robert, I already suggested that you should try/plug feeds onto your own coRank site. There’s a lot more you could get out of it than what you might think. Need help? Just drop me a line!

  8. “Here’s the 40 most popular items from your friends” … “I’d love to add a comment onto each item” … etc.

    Robert, I already suggested that you should try/plug feeds onto your own coRank site. There’s a lot more you could get out of it than what you might think. Need help? Just drop me a line!

  9. Have been enjoying all these posts on the new Reader features and sharing. Just starting to try it out a little, suggestions seem good …

  10. Am I the only person that is irritated that everyone is calling this a “social network” now? When I hear social network, I think MySpace or Facebook; not Google Reader. They are adding some much needed “social” features; but I would hardly call adding a list of your contact’s shared items a social network.

    btw – the ability to add comments is going to be huge when it comes out; you know that is being tested in the Google Labs right now!

  11. Am I the only person that is irritated that everyone is calling this a “social network” now? When I hear social network, I think MySpace or Facebook; not Google Reader. They are adding some much needed “social” features; but I would hardly call adding a list of your contact’s shared items a social network.

    btw – the ability to add comments is going to be huge when it comes out; you know that is being tested in the Google Labs right now!

  12. It seems to me that feed aggregation is pretty much the whole point of the friends social aspect.

    I want to see how many times each item in my rss feeds have been starred and shared. Not just by myself but by my friends too.

    I also want to see related items. The most shared/starred links should also factor into google.com/news somehow.

    Commenting should be available too. I don’t know how I’d want this to work though. I have conflicting feelings about link aggregation sites fracturing the conversation. But if google were to add its own comments to each item I would want to be able to comment on links shared by friends and also see all comments by google.com/reader readers.

    Sharing links that aren’t associated with feeds is also a must. I shouldn’t have to go and blog about something and then share that in google reader, too much effort.

    There needs to be a good way of following comments too. Someone smarter than me should figure that out.

  13. It seems to me that feed aggregation is pretty much the whole point of the friends social aspect.

    I want to see how many times each item in my rss feeds have been starred and shared. Not just by myself but by my friends too.

    I also want to see related items. The most shared/starred links should also factor into google.com/news somehow.

    Commenting should be available too. I don’t know how I’d want this to work though. I have conflicting feelings about link aggregation sites fracturing the conversation. But if google were to add its own comments to each item I would want to be able to comment on links shared by friends and also see all comments by google.com/reader readers.

    Sharing links that aren’t associated with feeds is also a must. I shouldn’t have to go and blog about something and then share that in google reader, too much effort.

    There needs to be a good way of following comments too. Someone smarter than me should figure that out.

  14. I have a work around for at least part of this. Using Google’s ‘Shared Stuff’ (see http://t-l.cc/44s ) share the item your interested in and leave a short comment about the page or post. Then subscribe to the RSS Feed for your shared stuff (mine here – http://t-l.cc/44t ) in Google Reader. You can then publish the item in your Google Reader Shared Links page (mine here – http://t-l.cc/44u ). I just did that with a link to Disney’s VMK MMORG to prove it worked. The only problem I encountered is the delay in Google to check the RSS feed for your ‘Shared Stuff’ RSS.

  15. I have a work around for at least part of this. Using Google’s ‘Shared Stuff’ (see http://t-l.cc/44s ) share the item your interested in and leave a short comment about the page or post. Then subscribe to the RSS Feed for your shared stuff (mine here – http://t-l.cc/44t ) in Google Reader. You can then publish the item in your Google Reader Shared Links page (mine here – http://t-l.cc/44u ). I just did that with a link to Disney’s VMK MMORG to prove it worked. The only problem I encountered is the delay in Google to check the RSS feed for your ‘Shared Stuff’ RSS.

  16. It’s a great idea, and certainly has potential, but it’s missing the most important feature of all – the OFF button.

    I don’t want to have to manually hide every contact that shares with me. I want an off button, just one click, to disable the whole thing.

  17. It’s a great idea, and certainly has potential, but it’s missing the most important feature of all – the OFF button.

    I don’t want to have to manually hide every contact that shares with me. I want an off button, just one click, to disable the whole thing.

  18. Robert
    To add to the list above,

    when you open the reader, what you see is shared items on the top and total number next to it in brackets.

    Below that is my new subscription feeds.

    Problem is when I start reading the feeds by pressing ‘J’ to go to next feed, it reads both subscription feeds and shared feeds in random order which is annoying.

    I prefer reading my feeds before jumping into hundreds of shared feeds.

  19. Robert
    To add to the list above,

    when you open the reader, what you see is shared items on the top and total number next to it in brackets.

    Below that is my new subscription feeds.

    Problem is when I start reading the feeds by pressing ‘J’ to go to next feed, it reads both subscription feeds and shared feeds in random order which is annoying.

    I prefer reading my feeds before jumping into hundreds of shared feeds.

  20. Excellent list aside from the part about ‘sharing’ – what friends of yours don’t understand that’s EXACTLY what sharing is for? If you want to bookmark it only, then use the star.

    Love the idea about being able to add comments as to why you were sharing something – just like a sentence or two, maybe it would be best to keep it to a minimum a la Twitter. Your link blog is great but I often wonder why you are sharing something, as I’m sure others do to things I share. This might even render duplicates moot because you’d be at least sharing your opinion on a topic and giving a user something new to read.

  21. Excellent list aside from the part about ‘sharing’ – what friends of yours don’t understand that’s EXACTLY what sharing is for? If you want to bookmark it only, then use the star.

    Love the idea about being able to add comments as to why you were sharing something – just like a sentence or two, maybe it would be best to keep it to a minimum a la Twitter. Your link blog is great but I often wonder why you are sharing something, as I’m sure others do to things I share. This might even render duplicates moot because you’d be at least sharing your opinion on a topic and giving a user something new to read.

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