Friday, August 15, 2008

Google Reader takes another step in the right direction with a new feature



Until Google recently released a feature which enabled users to share RSS feed items with others, Google Reader had only enabled hoarding of information. To be able to share interesting items with others before this feature was launched, you had to leave Google Reader and navigate to the source web page, copy the link in the address bar and then send it via e-mail if you wanted to reach specific individuals, or post it on your blog or another "hub" if you wanted to reach a wider audience.

The feature that allowed users to share (and comment) RSS items with your Google Talk contacts provided the first step to encourage sharing by making it easier. Now the Google Reader team have released a new feature which makes it possible to share a little bit more selectively:
"We've been working hard to create a more flexible way to let you choose who to share with; you can now manage a Friends list within Reader, separate from your Gmail chat contacts."

"...you can choose to either continue sharing with all of your chat buddies or create a custom Friends list with those that you hand-select."

This is definately a step forward. But I would still like to see is the ability to - just as with e-mail - select individual friends or groups of friends that I would like to share a certain item with. Which can be different for different items.

I have already addressed this wish in a post I published in May called "Getting more out of RSS and Google Reader":

I would like to be able to share items with specific friend instead of all of them. I want to be able to share items that I know a specific friend is interested in and which other friends might not be. I also would like my friends to have the possibility to share items with me that they believe I would be interested in . Right now, this feature is a little egocentric. It is more "I find this information interesting so I'll share it with all my friends" than "I believe my friend X could interested in this information so I'll share it with him".

I interpret the new feature as Google Reader is moving in this direction.

A good thing with Google is how they encourage feedback. You can post any feedback you have about their products in different groups in Google Reader. I have used this possibility a few times and will use it also for giving feedback on the sharing feature.

By the way, the Blogger Dashboard looked differently today - it has been equipped with a new look & feel. Better, I think. It provides a better overview than before, partly by removing visual clutter.

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