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
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.

New Google Reader "friends" feature sucks…

Beware of adding tons of friends in the new Google Reader/Google Talk combo.

I’ve added dozens of friends tonight (thanks everyone, keep them coming) and the problem?

Google Reader now is bringing me TONS of duplicates from people. This clutters my all items feed and keeps me from finding new, original items.

So, I’m hiding everyone until further notice so that their feeds don’t clutter my news reader up.

I’ll let you know when they fix this “feature” but it needs to go back to the drawing board.

Google Reader just added a social network…

Oh, my, the choice I made to start a link blog using Google Reader’s technology is just looking better and better all the time.

Today they started a social network. Please do join up! My Google Name:

Add me as a friend, particularly if you are also sharing items in Google Reader. Make sure you edit your Google Reader settings, first, though. Hint: if you look there you’ll see more possibilities for new features coming soon!

Here’s the official blog post on the Reader/Talk features.

Google Shared item blogs get more useful

This is a cool “little” feature in the latest version of Google Reader. if you subscribe to multiple people’s Shared Items’ blogs (I call that a link blog) it won’t send you duplicate items anymore, but will show you how many people actually linked to it. That’s a KILLER feature. But, what’s next?

I think Google is working on a Digg/TechMeme competitor and this is the first in a series of features that’ll bring Google Reader there. All of a sudden my decision to do a link blog using Google’s Reader is looking better and better.

I learned about this over on David Carrington’s blog who demonstrates how it works.

Oh, and we’re in London and having a great time. Milan is as good a traveler as his older brother is. Hardly a peep the entire way. Wifi here in the hotel rocks. It’s always fun to travel thousands of miles just to learn that the Internet works here too! Heheh. Seriously, today we’re probably going to get a tour of the BBC. That should be fun. Last week we got a tour of a Wall Street Journal printing plant (all of the Wall Street Journals that you buy in Northern California are printed about 50 yards from Podtech’s offices. They can print 60,000 copies an hour at that plant alone. It’s amazing the amount of paper and ink they go through there. Makes me appreciate how cool it is that we can distribute ideas via the Internet now and not convince someone to spend so many resources getting our words out there.

Feedheads: my Favorite Facebook application

Mark Zuckerberg won’t tell you his favorite Facebook application (Charlene Li just asked him on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit) but I will. It’s Feedheads (just was renamed from Google Reader Shared Items App). Louis Gray has the details.

If every app were as well done as this one Kara Swisher wouldn’t be able to call Facebook apps “toys.”

You all should spend some time understanding what this app does. It’s deep and uses the social graph in a way that I haven’t seen any other app do.

How many people use RSS anyway?

One of the slams I saw yesterday after we started posting Google Reader’s feed numbers is that “nobody reads RSS.”

Today, Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch, gave us some more numbers so we can extrapolate out just how many people actually are using RSS.

First, let’s start with the BBC. That’s the #1 most subscribed to feed on Google Reader that I can find.

Google Reader is reporting that 1,387,559 are subscribed to the News Front Page and another 824784 are subscribed to the UK Edition.

Let’s just call that two million people. Yeah, I know that many people are probably subscribed to both feeds, but let’s just go with it to make the math simple.

Now let’s make an assumption. Let’s say that half of all Google Readers are subscribed to the BBC. That means about four million people are using Google Reader.

Using the data from TechCrunch we see that Google counts for about 38% of all people using a feed reader. Let’s just round that to 40%. That means about 10 million people use RSS. Or probably less if my assumptions above prove to be too liberal.

So, why so small? And why does the world care about the behaviors of only 10 million people (out of six billion).

A few reasons.

First, getting 10 million users isn’t too shabby.

Second, I never expected RSS to get as popular as Paris Hilton.

Third, what’s the real power of RSS? The news influencers use it. So, if you want to reach the Paris Hilton crowd you’ve probably gotta go through someone who uses an RSS aggregator. Most of the journalists and almost all of the bloggers I know use RSS.

But, anyway, is 10 million a good or bad number? Why?

UPDATE: Alex Barrera says he asked FeedBurner reported to him that they have 65.6 million subscribers.