I’ve been sincerely enjoying the new updates that Google has put into their Google Reader product. It’s, I think, breathed new life into what’s been there all along. Louis Gray had the best summary of what’s new:
“If you don’t want to have your shared items broadcast to the world at large, you can still keep your shares private, or even share items to a specific group of contacts. These contact groups are the same you manage in your GMail, so changes on either service will be synchronized.”
“As link blogs have risen in importance, alongside your other social activity, from your blog to microblogging, etc., Google Reader has made it even more simple to highlight your link blog on your Google Profile, with a simple check box.”
“And don’t think Google Reader isn’t watching what is happening on other networks. The team has added on to the ability for friends to make comments on your shared items, enabling a "Like" feature, found not just on Facebook, but on FriendFeed and Socialmedian as well. So now, if you see a friend’s shared item, and you like it, just click like, or hit the "L" key.”
Why Do These Updates Matter?
Here’s what makes this really interesting – human assisted automation.
Augmented reality has been a hot topic lately – a recent post here at SiliconANGLE by BrunnerWorks’ Rick Gardiner seemed to spark a blogosphere wide discussion on the topic. We’re still in the early stages, so a lot of the discussion is focusing on the “wow” factor of these new AR applications.
What I’m wowed by, though, is the potential I see down the line. Augmented reality is all about integrating technology seamlessly into our daily workflow. Optimally, interacting with technology shouldn’t be a challenge, and it shouldn’t be intrusive.
Remember the story of the girl who was TXTing on her phone and wound up falling into a manhole cover?
In an augmented reality world, that wouldn’t happen. If you have an immersive view system, you can be running “reality” in a window, allowing you to actually see where your going. If current trends persist (both in Hollywood and in recent AR innovations), your continuous electronic communication happens as a compliment to what you’re interacting with in the real world.
This is why I like the new updates to Google Reader. Granted, Google Reader isn’t for everyone, but for those that like to skim dozens to thousands of news sources daily, with a flick of a finger, I can share it out to multiple different networks, and each network has it’s own context.
When I share a document in Google Reader, it shows up in a number of places already.
My GSRI Feed:
My notatiosn are attached to the top, and it allows for in-system commenting at the bottom. Those that interact here are usually in my inner circle, since my friends list is pulled from my GChat list.
My notations will show up here as well, and are exposed to the types of interactions we know and love that show up in that community. It’s a somewhat wider audience with a particular ethos. Things that show up here have a strong chance of going viral just through interactions with others that find it interesting.
This exposes my thoughts and attention to the thousands of people who follow me on Twitter. The interaction there tends to be occasionally comment driven, but mostly re-tweet driven. There’s a whole host of information I could go into on re-tweet behavior based on what I’ve seen from automatically syndicating my tweets to Twitter (using my custom Twoogle/Riz.Gd applet – alpha invites coming soon).
I tested dozens of linkblog solutions before deciding to buckle down and write my own. The current version works as you see here – the URL is shortened and shows up as a sort of (hidable) stickynote on top of the shared article with my notes and sharing functions displayed prominently.
The New Features in Reader
Here’s what excites me the most about the new features in Google Reader: they add a whole new later of nuance to sharing, which is even more apparent to folks like me who’ve been working with the data in GReader and transofrming it elsewhere.
Persistent.info discovered the same thing today, as well:
Reader recently launched liking (and a bunch of other features). One of the nice things about liking is that it’s completely public. It would therefore make sense to be pretty liberal with liking data, and in fact Reader does try to expose liking in our feeds. If you look at my shared items feed you will see a bunch of entries like:<gr:likingUser>00298835408679692061</gr:likingUser> <gr:likingUser>11558879684172144796</gr:likingUser> <gr:likingUser>07538649935038400809</gr:likingUser> <gr:likingUser>09776139491686191852</gr:likingUser> <gr:likingUser>02408713980432217881</gr:likingUser> <gr:likingUser>05429296530037195610</gr:likingUser>
These are the users that have liked. Users are represented by their IDs, which you can use to generate Reader shared page URLs. More interestingly, you can plug these into the Social Graph API to see who these users are.
Liking information isn’t just limited to Reader shared item feeds. If you use Reader’s view of a feed, for example The Big Picture’s, you can see the
<gr:likingUser>elements there too. This means that as a publisher you can extract this information and see which of your items Reader users find interesting.
For now liking information that is included inline in the feed is limited to 100 users, mainly for performance reasons. That number may go up (or down) as we see how this feature is used.
Using likes as a secondary way to share is another way to augment any curated content you find. As has been noted many places, folks are much more liberal with their likes than their shares. A feed of likes is going to be a lot more unfocused than what shows up in a linkblog, and is going to be lacking any contextual editorializing you may give it, as you would with a noted share.