Since I’m full of the milk of human kindness after a wonderful Christmas, I’ve been trying to remain calm in the face of all the Google Reader hysteria about shared items and so on — but wiping out on some ice yesterday and landing on my ass has made it hard to stay serene (combined with gashing my hand playing Wii baseball), so I can’t help pointing out that much of the moaning about “privacy” is just ridiculous.
Like Stan over at Mashable, I’m wondering what part of the word “shared” isn’t being understood in this whole scenario. Are the people who are complaining non-English speakers? That seems unlikely. So the idea of “sharing” items on your Google Reader must be one they are at least glancingly familiar with. Scoble has decided to take the high road and blame Google for not implementing ‘granular privacy controls’ — and that might be a good thing for Reader, just as it would be for Facebook.
But it’s not something that’s necessary, in my opinion, nor is it something Google should be slammed for not having. The company explained that shared items would be visible to GTalk contacts — pretty simple, in my opinion. Plus, they can only be seen by contacts who also use Google Reader, and those contacts have to specifically click on the shared items from other users to see them. It’s not as if they’re being emailed to your friends, or scrolling by on the Jumbotron.
Would GPC be handy to have? Sure. Would a better contact management system be good? No doubt. But if you want to keep something private in Reader, but still save it for later, there’s a simple way of doing that: use the “Star” function. The word “share” means exactly what it implies. In case anyone is interested, my shared items are here. They may not be as interesting as Scoble’s, but they’re the best I can do (they’re in the sidebar of my blog as well, via a Reader widget).
Steve Rubel has a post that shows how to share items with a certain group of people without having them shared with every member of your Google contact list — share them by using a special tag. And now Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins at Mashable says that Google has added the ability to move all of your shared items to a new tag if you wish to stop sharing them with everyone and only share them with certain people. The official Google blog post on the topic is here.